Friday, August 3, 2012

Mission Update

  I don't really know what to call these, and neither, apparently, did Mission. The hammertone grey baffle dates them around 1985, and they use the same stand as the 737, 770 Freedom 4 and 780 Argonaut in the 1985 speaker catalogue. They're the same form factor as the 780, but the drivers are all different. They're made in France by Sierre, a high end OEM manufacturer, later bought by, and absorbed into, Audax. In researching these speakers, I found a complete set of photos of an identical pair in eastern Europe, but no model number. A gentleman in Alberta, who called them Argonaut Reference speakers, was trying to find a single woofer for his. I've seen one other speaker from Mission with the same ribbed woofer. It was designated 770S, and had a standard 770 Freedom 4 Vifa tweeter, with one ribbed woofer. Frank Fabian, at The Speaker Shop (where Fernando installed new surrounds on the tweeters, a very, very difficult process), was very surprised to see a pair on this continent. Perhaps they're prototypes (maybe even in conjunction with CYRUS, who used Sierre drivers in demonstrations at european hifi shows), perhaps a limited edition.
  So, how do they sound? I'm a big Mission fan, and know the 770 in all it's versions pretty well. I've never heard a made in England Mission that I didn't like, especially the 70s and early 80s products. These sound bigger in every way, and add to the traditional Mission strengths in subtle and not so subtle ways. There is nothing subtle about the bass response of these speakers. Subjectively, I've only enjoyed bass of this depth once before in my apartment, from a pair of ESS AMT3 Rock Monitors, but not with the same speed. The bass is fast, tight and extended, but very tuneful. The mids are beautiful, as is the top. They're very revealing, never hard though.
   These are some of the coolest speakers I've ever owned.


PS Dave said...

There was a pair for sale here in Vancouver about 6 months ago. The guy was asking around $350/pair. I offered him $250 but he did not bite. My thought was I have a pair of 770 Freedom 4's that I picked up for a C note, so it was a stretch to buck up for the 780 Argonaut's.

Hope you enjoy them.

Anonymous said...

Funny seeing this since I ended up buying these missions in Vancouver for 3 bills. I do not regret it one bit. I sure would like to find out the history of these. I do think they were made around 1982 and I think the newer 780 Argonauts came out in 85 but don't quote me on that

Neil Hallworth said...
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Neil Hallworth said...

These are the original Mission 780 Argonauts (that's how they were branded in the UK). The bass drivers you have in that version are indeed those from the 770S (the worst of the 770 line, IMHO). The tweeters though, are not the production version - do you know what they are? Looks like you may have something either experimental, prototype or with drivers changed by one of their owners at some point in their lifetime.
There are pictures on my blog of the Mission 780 Argonauts in both MkI (based on the 770 Freedom MkI with the tweeter at the top as per your photo here) and the MkII (based on the 770 Freedom MkII and having the tweeter placed between the woofers):