Mission Re-Engineers Its Classic 700 Speaker From The 1980s For A Whole New Generation

The classic British speaker brand is going from strength to strength. Hot on the heels of the redesigned 770 loudspeakers, Mission has redesigned another one of its famous models of yesteryear.

The new Mission 700 was developed as a ‘compact’ loudspeaker that would fit into the tiny living rooms that so many people in the UK have to put up with. Released in 1980, the Mission 700 took the engineering principles used in the 770 but in a smaller package that could be mass-produced and sold at a lower price. The result was a classic ‘Brit-fi’ loudspeaker.

In the spring of 2022, Mission resurrected its iconic 770 speakers in a completely redesigned form, using modern techniques and technologies to improve speaker performance. Six months later, Mission has relaunched the Mission 700.

All elements of the Mission 700 have been upgraded, including the cabinet, transmission units, and crossover network. However, the design remains completely true to the spirit of the original in terms of technical ethos, sonic approach, and appearance. Anyone familiar with the original design will recognize the resemblance. The cabinet proportions, white front baffle, and Mission 700 logo are all instantly recognizable, but with enhanced design touches like the white bass/midrange cone, larger flared port surround, and hidden fixings. The black or walnut wood veneer and lacquer finish of the front baffle have also been upgraded, while the new speaker is twice the original weight, reflecting its reinforced construction.

Another familiar feature is the inverted controller layout. Until the original Mission 700 arrived in 1980, two-way dynamic loudspeakers were invariably designed with the tweeter unit at the top and the mid/bass driver at the bottom. The 700 changes all that by placing the tweeter unit below the mid/bass driver. This configuration, known as IDG (Inverted Driver Geometry), became a unique Mission design and is the cornerstone of Mission speaker designs.

The IDG function aids ‘time alignment’ by placing the bass/mid driver closer to ear level with the tweeter positioned below. The path lengths from the acoustic centers of the two conductors are equalized so that the sound waves coincide at the height of the listener’s head. Mission claims that this improves the stereo image and contributes to the perfectly coherent and transparent sound of the speakers.

If you think this is simply a matter of reversing the speaker cabinet, think again. Mission says that every aspect of industrial and mechanical design requires precise calculations to ensure optimal positioning, spacing and alignment of drive units, along with crossover design.

The new 700’s mid/bass cone is made from polypropylene, a material Mission first introduced to commercial loudspeakers. However, the new 165mm cone is packed with minerals to make it more rigid than regular polypropylene diaphragms for fast, tight bass that allows the listener to accurately hear how bass instruments are played.

The entire bass/mid drive unit has been completely redesigned for the new 700, with the motor system updated for modern power handling and dynamic requirements. Like the more expensive and recently released 770, the driver is built into a die-cast chassis with large rear “windows” to reduce early reflections through the cone. In addition, care has been taken to marry a low-density nitrile surround to the cone, to match its impedance and reduce reflections from the edge of the cone.

The cabinet and front-firing reflex port are tuned to a low frequency, avoiding the “one-note bass” that Mission says is typical of some bass reflex systems. Additionally, the port is heavily flared at both the inlet and outlet to smooth airflow and eradicate distortion. As a result, the bass now extends below 38 Hzm, which is impressive for a speaker of this size.

In the original design of the 700, Mission focused on mid-range performance, which had always been the strong point of high-fidelity reproduction of vinyl records. For today’s digital sources and superior turntables, a loudspeaker’s performance at the frequency ends is now considered to be of equal importance to that of the midrange. The new 700’s tweeter incorporates a 28mm damped, lightweight microfiber dome with smooth response, backed by a damped rear chamber that pushes the fundamental resonance below the crossover region.

The quality of the high-frequency unit is perfectly matched to the mid/bass driver to ensure consistent character throughout the entire speaker’s range. Some treble units can sound detailed but too bright and insistent; others may sound bland but lack crisp clarity. Mission describes the 770’s high-frequency performance as “smooth and detailed”.

In designing crossover networks, state-of-the-art software-based mapping and measurement techniques allowed Mission to perfectly balance the lows and mids and adjust the crossover to the tweeter by mapping the acoustic slopes of the crossover with extreme precision. Mission says that the equalizer and crossover for the new 700 involved hundreds of hours of listening sessions using various genres of music before settling on the final version.

The circuitry was mapped onto separate bass and treble PCBs using short signal paths and high-quality components such as super-transparent polypropylene capacitors and air-core inductors, while maintaining the simplicity and elegance of the crossover in the original 700.

The 700’s drivers and crossover are housed in a real wood veneer cabinet, which measures and features a double-wall sandwich of high-density MDF and particle board bonded together by a layer of high-damping adhesive. This construction is more sophisticated than the original speaker, resulting in a cabinet with sub-audible panel resonance, allowing the drive units to do their job without being colored by the cabinet.

Internal gussets add strength to the front baffle and hold the drive unit to the cabinet, creating support that aids bass drive performance. This is complemented by a layer of acoustic foam and damping fiber, strategically placed to absorb reflections within the cabinet without overly dampening bass quality.

Mission has designed a pair of optional floor stands for the new speakers. They are custom made to match the new 700. The open frame design is made of carbon steel with damping material on each of its four uprights. The stand positions each speaker at the ideal height but eliminates the harmful effects of unwanted vibrations.

Mission says there is a clear demand for classic loudspeakers re-engineered for modern times, as evidenced by the success of the Mission 770 launched earlier this year. This demand is fueled in part by the nostalgia and appeal of ‘vintage’ style, in the same way that vintage clothing or furniture is seen as ‘cool’ compared to bland contemporary design. But in the case of speakers, it’s not just ‘hipster cool’; the appeal, Mission says, is more specific.

For passionate music lovers, the appeal goes hand in hand with the revival of vinyl; the desire to play music into something more tangible and authentic than do-it-all ‘smart’ speakers pulling playlists off the internet. Plus, these classic speaker designs duly respect the laws of physics: form follows function, with function being to deliver full-range hi-fi sound, rather than trying to make an elegantly compact speaker sound big, sprawling and spacious. .

There may be people who buy the new Mission 700 because it reminds of the original; maybe you were one of the thousands who owned a pair and want to recapture the joy these speakers gave you. Other buyers may not have been alive when the original 700 was available; they simply want a pair of great-sounding speakers to build an audio system with.

In the words of Peter Comeau, Director of Acoustic Design at Mission: “The larger cabinets and larger driver units of ‘classic’ loudspeaker designs give them an acoustic advantage over loudspeakers that follow the contemporary trend for slimmer cabinets. with smaller footprints: you can’t beat the laws of physics no matter how hard you try!

“However, when used with modern sources, these classic loudspeakers, in their original form, can be found wanting in terms of definition at the frequency ends, power handling and dynamic range; that’s why it’s critical that they be thoroughly redesigned using contemporary techniques and technologies to enable them to thrive in the modern age. When done right, the combination of classic design and modern technology can deliver a wonderfully satisfying musical result.

“The new Mission 700 extends the sonic transparency and sense of musical engagement that made the original one of the most successful and fondly remembered loudspeakers of the 1980s, improving its performance in every respect. The depth and articulation of the bass, the fluid expression of the mids, the smooth, even clarity of the treble – these are floorstanding speakers that emphatically engage the ears without stress or strain.”

Prices and availability: The Mission 700 will be available from mid-September for £1,299 a pair. There will be a choice of real wood veneer finishes in black or walnut. Matching brackets are £299 a pair.

More information: www.mission.co.uk

Technical specifications:

  • Speaker Type: 2-Way Standmount
  • Enclosure type: Bass reflex.
  • Treble driver: 28mm microfiber dome.
  • Mid/Bass Driver: 165mm mineral-filled polypropylene cone.
  • Sensitivity: (2.8V @ 1m) 86dB.
  • Rated impedance: 8Ω.
  • Recommended amplifier power: 25-150W.
  • Frequency response (+/-3dB): 45Hz-20kHz.
  • Bass Extension (-6dB): 38Hz.
  • Crossover Frequency: 3kHz.
  • Cabinet volume: 24.8L.
  • Dimensions (height x width x depth): 510 x 260 x 270 mm.
  • Weight (each speaker): 12.8 kg.

Leave a Comment