Mission QX2 Standmount Speaker Review
Don’t worry - Mission’s latest arrival is Quite eXcellent
What is the Mission QX2?The Mission QX-2 is a two-way standmount speaker that is part of the second range of speakers from the newly revitalised Mission speaker brand. Put bluntly, expectations are high for this one. The LX range of speakers offers performance that is truly outstanding for the asking price. The LX-2 was the first speaker I listened to that opened up a performance gap to the Q Acoustics 3000 series (and, while it isn’t the policy of speaker brands to acknowledge such things, would have been a driving force behind the development of the 3000i range). For the first time in quite a while, this was a range of Mission speakers that really looked and felt like the real deal.
Now Mission is looking to do the same thing with the QX Series. This occupies the £300-1,000 price point that is keenly contested by all the usual suspects and where it is possible to secure sparkling performance at a relatively sensible price. In order for Mission to excel here, they have to take on some seriously capable speakers that also happen to include some seriously well made ones. The company has pedigree here of course - I still have huge nostalgic regard for the old 771e and 780SE, which with a nudge for inflation here and there - occupy the same price point. Nostalgia however, doesn’t get the job done. Is the QX-2 able to take everything that was good about the LX Series and take it one step higher? Let us begin.
Specification and DesignThe QX-2 is a two-way standmount and - outwardly at least - appears relatively conventional for a Mission speaker. The extra budget has allowed for rather more technology to be present in the QX-2 though and some of it is pretty surprising to encounter at £400. The mid-bass driver at least is a recognisable derivative of the one used in the LX range. It is 150mm in size and made from a combination of soft pulp and acrylic fibre which gives most of the benefits of a paper driver (and despite the distinctly low tech nature of the material, there are plenty) with a greater level of strength for a given thickness and weight.
Behind and around the main dome is a conical surround that is designed to increase the contact between the driver and the voice coil. The idea is that the maximum bang for buck is extracted from the energy that is input into the driver assembly. This doesn’t translate into startling sensitivity numbers but the QX-2 offers general 8-ohm impedance mated with a rated (and entirely believable) sensitivity figure of 88dB/w which should ensure that most amplifiers that can muster twenty watts or more shouldn’t struggle with them.
The tweeter in the QX-2 is significantly different from the one in its more affordable relatives. It is a ‘ring dome’ type arrangement where a fabric section is formed into a toroid and placed around a fixed metal waveguide. This allows for a wider and more controlled dispersion without the tweeter itself becoming so large that its high-frequency performance is in any way compromised - so the 38mm measurement of the tweeter isn’t all tweeter in a manner of speaking. This crosses over to the main driver at 2.2kHz which gives it plenty to do but isn’t as low as some of the designs we have seen recently.
The drivers are arranged in the classic Mission fashion of the mid-bass being mounted over the tweeter. This is intended to help with the construct of time alignment (although this is effectively also dependent on where you are relative to the drivers as much as anything else). It also helps the QX-2 look like a Mission speaker which, I suspect, is possibly a more important consideration here.
The cabinet of the QX-2 is possibly the most technically interesting aspect of the whole speaker. Mission calls it an arc shape which doesn’t seem entirely correct to these eyes as the rear corners are the same as the front ones but I can see what they are going for. The rounded corner is more than a styling gimmick. It aids diffraction from the drivers and helps to reduce standing waves. The main body of the cabinet is MDF with a deep foam insulation liner that sits inside. The cabinet is then topped and bottomed by aluminium end plates. These have more than an aesthetic purpose (more of which in a bit). The introduction of a different material allows for better resonance control and the overall cabinet rigidity is improved thanks to the stiffness of the aluminium.
Bass response is augmented via a rear mounted slot port and interestingly, if you (gently!) stick a finger in it, you’ll encounter a foam inner placed in the aperture like a pre-fitted foam bung. This ensures that the QX-2 doesn’t seem to be terribly fussy about being placed near a wall and still has claimed lower frequency response of 44Hz at a thoroughly grown up +/-3dB. This ensures that the Mission has a low frequency extension that is entirely competitive with anything in a similar price point up to the (£250 more expensive) Monitor Audio Silver 100. In keeping with many key rivals, the QX-2 supports single wiring only.
As befits having more budget to spend, the QX models are rather more visually interesting than the LX ones. Mission is part of the larger IAG organisation (although, for long and complex reasons it is distributed by another company) and there has clearly been a process within the company of working out which brands will be doing what. Mission seems to have been selected to be the modern and clean styled brand in the pack and as far I am concerned, they’ve nailed it with the QX-2.
Somebody involved in the design has taken the (wholly correct) decision that the inverted drivers on their own are enough to give the speaker visual identity of being a Mission product. With this present, almost everything else in the design isn’t comprised of things we automatically associate with the company. Further to this, there isn’t a single touch on the QX-2 I would describe as retro. Now, to be clear, I like retro. When done carefully like the Cyrus ONE or Monitor Audio Monitor 50, it’s a strong design language. Nevertheless, it is refreshing to encounter a product that feels so thoroughly modern.
The most striking - for which read contentious depending on your viewpoint - feature is the surround for the driver. Mission calls it a ‘comb tooth trim’ and it is used to hide the driver fixings. After a while, I’ve started to see them more as an ‘eyelash’ type of effect and the more you look at it, the more weirdly organic they start to become. I personally feel it is one of the better looking speakers under £1,000 and, who knows, these might be features that the retro speakers of 2038 choose to emulate. As is the case with every speaker I have ever tested from IAG, the build quality and finish are immaculate.
it is refreshing to encounter a product that feels so thoroughly modern
How was the Mission QX-2 tested?The QX-2 was placed on a pair of Soundstyle Z60 stands and connected to a Naim Uniti Star running off a Melco N1A NAS drive and acting as a decoder for an LG 55B7 OLED. Some additional testing was carried out via a Michell Gyrodec with SME M2-9 arm and Goldring 2500 moving iron cartridge running into a Lindemann Limetree phono stage. All electrics have been connected to an IsoTek Evo 3 Aquarius mains conditioner. Material used has included lossless and high res FLAC AIFF and DSD, Tidal, Deezer, vinyl and on-demand and broadcast TV.
Sound QualityThe review samples appeared to have done some running before they arrived with me so were pressed into use straight away. Selecting Hybrid’s Light of the Fearless and turning the wick up on the Star, the Mission is immediately and emphatically convincing. There is plenty of control and order to the way that it makes music and it is hard not to be impressed at the scale that this relatively compact box can achieve. This is more than simple bass extension too - although the QX-2 is no slouch in that regard either. Placed with any degree of attention to the creation of a stereo image, the Mission does a superb job of sounding spacious and organised. The vastness of We Are Fearless is delivered with genuine authority.
There is also a transparency to how the Mission does its work that is not always present in speakers at this price point. Connected to the Naim it reflects the Uniti Star’s innately assured and powerful presentation and successfully imparts much of its own character into the music. This means that the 24/88.2kHz download of Dead Can Dance’s Yulunga (Spirit Dance) is reproduced with all of the fantastic production and attention to detail easily apparent. This is a track that has always sounded astonishing on the Naim and QX-2 allows it to shine in a manner that you might not necessarily expect from a £400 speaker.
Listen a little longer and there are some calling cards to the Mission that are largely beneficial. That impressive looking tweeter might have quite the point in the middle of it but it delivers a very smooth and refined representation of the upper registers that manages to balance detail and civility to excellent effect. The handover between the two drivers is extremely well handled and the time alignment does seem to be extremely good- although the QX-2 has to play second fiddle to the KEF Q350 if this is the most important aspect of the performance of a speaker for you.
This is balanced with a sense of enthusiasm and fun that Mission manages to harness in such a way that it is present when you want to play Feeder’s Echo Park at the sort of levels that attempt to bring back 2001. The QX-2 is a fine partner for work like this. Its refinement manages to take the edge off what is not a truly great recording while retaining the bite and attack that this music needs to sound as it should. In some ways, it is a little like the Arcam SA20 in that it works as hard to make poor recordings something you’d choose to listen to as it does polishing up the already good ones.
The omens also suggest that the QX Series is going to be a formidable range for AV use. Watching TV through the QX-2 plays to the Mission’s strengths and is a thoroughly satisfying experience. An enjoyable evening spent watching The Blues Brothers (part of the problem with actually watching new content on Netflix is that if I genuinely have 2 hours and 12 minutes to myself, I’m always going to choose to watch The Blues Brothers) is a joyous experience. After less than five minutes, the absence of surround ceases to matter. The outstanding sequence in the church is delivered with the energy, exquisite musicianship and action perfectly relayed to the listener. If the centre and the dedicated surround are up to the job, this could be a very fine surround offering indeed.
That impressive looking tweeter might have quite the point in the middle of it but it delivers a very smooth and refined representation of the upper registers that manages to balance detail and civility to excellent effect.
- Truly outstanding sound quality
- Very well made
- Handsome looks
- Demand decent partnering equipment
- Quite large
- No shortage of competition
Mission QX2 Standmount Speaker ReviewThere’s no small amount of pressure for the QX-2. The LX-2 at its launch was a £160 speaker that sounded like a (very) well sorted £300 one so the onus is on Mission to work a miracle on a par with the feeding of the five thousand for £400. The laws of physics are a hard taskmaster though and the QX-2 cannot pass for an £800 speaker. What is deeply impressive though is how close it gets.
Racking my brains about speakers we’ve looked at over the last twelve months, the reality is that if you were looking at speakers up to and including the Monitor Audio Silver 100 at more than half as much again, I would encourage you to at least listen to the Mission first. There are details in rivals that the QX-2 has to take second fiddle to- the bass response of the Silver 100, the imagery of the KEF Q350 and the almost monitor like accuracy of the veteran Q Acoustics Concept 20. Where it excels is getting extremely close to each rival’s ‘killer app’ and then doing more in other regards. This is a clever speaker with a fresh modern design and highly competitive price point. More than that though, it simply sounds outstanding. Mission is moving up in the world and the result is another emphatic Best Buy.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £379.00
Ease of Use9
Value for Money10
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