What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Mon, 2 Nov 2009, 8:00am

Mission 790SE

Tested at £400
60100
3

The 'SE' modifications have certainly altered the sound of the 790s, but they're some way short of the best rivals

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For

  • Hefty build and lavish finish
  • strong, purposeful bass
  • good midrange detail

Against

  • Short on dynamics
  • muddled timing thanks to slovenly bottom end
  • can get hard and shouty at high volumes

It's been through plenty of ups and downs in its time, but the Mission brand's distinct lack of available stereo speakers right now suggests one of the more profound lows in its history.

These 790SEs, the first of the 79 range to be given the 'SE' (sonically enhanced) treatment, are parent company IAG's latest attempt to restore Mission to its former – and considerable – glory.

Unique looks appeal
They're certainly a glossy, sturdy and handsome proposition. This sort of money generally buys only the most unimaginative of square boxes, so the 790SEs' interesting angles and inverted driver arrangement make them an intriguing prospect in the showroom.

The proof of the loudspeaker is in the listening, though, and here the Missions eventually prove less intriguing than fatiguing.

Whether playing Joni Mitchell or The Chemical Brothers, there's an all-pervading hardness to the overall sound of the 790SEs, an unyielding quality that impacts negatively on the subtlety and delicacy their midrange would otherwise offer.
 
Lots of pros – and cons
They're not shy of playing loud, but much of the soundstage's three-dimensionality is lost at high volumes.

Bass is solid and plentiful, but entry into and out of bass notes is a little lazy and slurred by the standards of the class leaders. And for all their enthusiasm, the 790SEs don't have huge dynamic ability.

If generous, firm bass is your primary requirement in new speakers, the 790SEs are a beautifully made front-runner for your affections. Their uncoloured and informative midrange is another reason to seek them out.

Overall, though, they're as far off the pace of the front-runners as the old 790s – the sonic 'enhancements' turn out to be merely 'differences'.

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