It’s always interesting when a manufacturer revisits a speaker we’ve previously tested. But it’s even more intriguing when the speaker in question is a five-star performer and former What Hi-Fi? Award-winner – which is exactly the case with the Mission QX-2 MKII.
We tested the original QX2 bookshelf speakers back in 2018 and were impressed, calling them “hugely enjoyable speakers that stand out among the competition”.
But four years have passed and the competition now boasts some serious standout performers such as the Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2 Anniversary Edition. So, has Mission managed to move the game on sufficiently?
Design and build
The QX-2 have always been one of the more interesting-looking speakers at this price point and the same is true for the new versions, which actually bring some subtle but noticeable changes.
The aluminium top plate of the original has been revised to bring extra rigidity, and the two-way standmounter also gets the latest version of Mission’s DiaDrive bass/mid driver. The cone is made from an improved acrylic ﬁbre material, and you can actually see those fibres glisten when light catches the speaker cone from certain angles.
It’s surrounded by something Mission refers to as a “serrated acoustic damping frame”. It’s not just there for visual effect; it’s engineered to help scatter unwanted reflections coming off the cone and improve the purity of sound. For the MKII variants, the layout of the indents has been tweaked while tapered indentations have been added to help smooth out the frequency response even further.
Max power handling 120 watts
Dimensions (hwd) 32 x 22 x 21cm
The indents have also spread down to the 1.5-inch ring dome tweeter unit, which uses tech developed for Mission’s premium ZX series speakers. It’s made from a woven textile material and formed in a double ring arrangement for optimum stiffness, with a phase plug protruding from the centre of the tweeter like a tiny lance. Mission believes using this kind of tweeter helps reduce distortion and provides better control of high frequencies.
One of the more obvious talking points around these speakers relates to how these drivers are actually positioned. They’re configured in Mission’s IDG (Inverted Driver Geometry) format, with the tweeter mounted below the mid/bass driver. This arrangement is chosen specifically to optimise time alignment so that sound waves from each driver reach the listener at the same time.
We think their appearance is both aided and hindered by the finish. Our review pair is in Lux Black (Lux White and Walnut Pearl are also available), which gives the speakers a stylish and tactile matte surface that looks and feels expensive. However, we find they mark quite easily during testing, so that might be something to bear in mind.
Around the back of the Mission QX-2 MKII is a rear bass port and single pair of speaker cable terminals, which is slowly becoming more common at this level as more manufacturers turn away from the bi-wiring route.
Like the previous generation of QX, that port is ribbed to reduce noise and distortion that occurs when playing low bass notes at high volumes. And as was the case with the first iteration, the QX-2 MKII perform at their best when given room to breathe. Bass becomes a bit overbearing when they hug a back wall.
We find bass levels and stereo imaging nicely balanced out when they're around 60cm/24 inches away from the wall in our listening room. We’d also recommend placing the Missions on a suitable pair of speaker stands – the go-to pair in our test room are the Custom Design FS104 Signatures.
Thankfully, the Missions aren’t overly fussy when it comes to partnering equipment so we’ve no hesitation in recommending the best stereo amplifiers at this level, such as the Marantz PM6007 and the Rega io. Either would be a great match for these standmounters.
Now it’s time to answer the big question. Do the new Missions still have the magic of the old pair? Well, they’re still a very entertaining and fun-sounding pair of speakers. They waste no time punching out the lively piano play found in Kate Nash’s Foundations. Upbeat guitar strums and percussion also combine to get the track rolling along at a rapid rate of knots. There’s a good sense of solidity to the overall sound and the Missions do a fine job communicating the sarcastic, slightly annoyed tone of her vocal.
Switch to Kanye West’s Black Skinhead and the QX-2 MKII construct a robust soundstage, flexing their muscles from the very first note. In Hulk terms, they’d be looking for a new shirt and pair of shorts. The Missions are capable of delivering a big, muscular sound – they not only summon an impressive amount of bass weight to hammer home Kanye’s stompy bass arrangement but they also probe surprisingly deep too, painting notes with a nice amount of texture.
We wouldn’t say the Missions were the most transparent listen, though. Key rivals, such as the B&W 607 S2 Anniversary Edition, cut through the noise and open up the track even further. This lack of openness also restricts the amount of dynamic expression that the Missions can show, and they don’t communicate the quality of different recordings as explicitly as we’d like. You could say they’re a little one-dimensional compared to the top speakers at the money.
There are plenty of reasons why you’d audition the Mission QX-2 MKII as a potential purchase. They look the part, summon plenty of bass for a standmounter and have no problem firing out music with authority and a sense of fun. But the game has moved on at this price point and the Missions are just a little far off the pace to rub shoulders with the current class leaders.
- Sound 4
- Compatibility 4
- Build 5
Also consider the Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2