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Back to the future: Mission’s 770 loudspeaker is born again

  • 20th Century appearance, 21st Century internals. That’s the message from Mission this week as it announces a reboot of its 2-way 770 standmount loudspeaker. The 770 first saw daylight back in 1978 when it was the first commercial loudspeaker to feature a mid/bass driver made from polypropylene. The new version’s driver – still 20cm in diameter – takes that basic recipe and adds ‘minerals’ to improve the driver’s speed and rigidity.

    Also staying true to the original is the mid-bass driver’s open-backed die-cast frame and the front-firing reflex port, now flared at each end to reduce turbulence and distortion. Rest assured: the voice coil and magnet system have been upgraded for better dynamics and improved power handling. Amplifiers are, in the main, more powerful than they were in 1978.

    The tweeter – still 28mm – is reportedly a significant upgrade over the original. The plastic dome has been replaced by a coated silk (microfibre) dome and is now damped by a rear chamber that drives down the tweeter’s resonant frequency below that of its crossover point. That way, the crossover does the work, not the driver. Speaking of which…

    According to the press materials, it took Mission over 170 crossover iterations to land on a design that not only measured well but satisfied its engineers’ ears:

    “Today’s advanced software crossover mapping and measuring techniques allow Mission to perfect the balance between bass and midrange and adjust the crossover to the treble unit by mapping the acoustic crossover slopes with extreme accuracy. The circuit was then mapped out onto separate bass and treble PCBs using very short signal paths and accommodating high-quality components such as super-transparent polypropylene capacitors and air-core inductors, maintaining the simplicity and elegance of the original whilst improving critical elements.”

    The new 770 is rated by Mission as being 88dB sensitive. Nominal impedance clocks in at 8 Ohms. Bass goes down to 30Hz. Each one weighs 18kg (with its stand).

    The cabinet – still 59 x 30 x 30 cm – has also met with some changes. The original 770 featured thin walls with bitumen pads affixed to their insides to dampen any resonances. For the new model, Mission has gone with a twin-wall sandwich of high-density MDF and particleboard, bonded by a layer of high-damping adhesive.

    Those with longer memories than yours truly will likely know that the original Mission 770 came to market under the stewardship of the late Farad Azima. The new version has been designed by Peter Comeau, the founder of Heybrook and now the Director of Acoustic Design at Mission. His work is overseen by owners IAG. The Chinese behemoth also owns a number of other classic UK brands: Audiolab, Leak, Quad, Castle and Wharfedale.

    It’s possible that IAG’s success with the Wharfedale Linton, another 21st Century take on a 20th Century loudspeaker and sat on open frame stands, encouraged them to do something similar with this Mission classic. However, this time out, IAG has returned production to the UK – to a newly expanded production facility in Huntingdon – and is including the stands in the £3500-per-pair asking price. Your choice of black or walnut veneer.

    Further information: Mission

    Written by John Darko

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts and pens written pieces for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

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