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Review: Mission LX1, Mission LX5 and Mission LX-C – affordable speakers

Mission LX1 Speakers
Mission launched last year the Mission LX speakers, aiming at the price conscious consumer who still wants a good sound. The lower price makes the LX family interesting to build a surround setup.
4.5/5 - (476 votes)

The British Mission launched last year the Mission LX speakers, aiming at the price conscious consumer who still wants a good sound. The lower price makes the LX family interesting to build a surround setup.

Mission LX1, Mission LX5 and Mission LX-C

It is striking how more and more affordable speakers appear in the past year, which actually play at a higher level than you would expect. Elacs Debut series or the Monitor Audio Bronze family are two examples that immediately come to mind. We are curious if the LX series of Mission also fits with that trend. Because it may be said, a trend that brings better sound to the critical consumer for a lower price is, of course, a very positive one.

As with the Bronze and Debut series, the low prices of the Mission LX models make them interesting for anyone who wants to build a surround setup for a relatively low price. That’s why we built a 5.0 setup for this test, with two LX5 floorstanders, two LX1 bookshelf speakers and an LX-C center speaker. There is no suitable LX subwoofer, so we still have a Teufel T 4000 subwoofer in reserve in case some support is needed in the low. That subwoofer is very interesting if you want to build a home cinema with an eye on your budget and at the same time look for a sub that you can slide under the seat.

To control the surround setup we used a Denon AVR-X6300H; an 11.2 receiver from a significantly higher price range than the rest of the equipment used. With a speaker set like this, a modal consumer would rather go for a receiver such as a Denon AVR-X2300 or Yamaha RX-V481. The X6300H has the advantage that any limitations will not manifest on the receiver side.

The affordable prices are as follows:
Mission LX1: 129 euros
Mission LX5: 699 euros
Mission LX-C: 229 euros

Mission LX1, Mission LX5 and Mission LX-C: beautifully finished

The Dutch importer from Mission, Quad-raad, gave us the speakers in each of the three possible LX finishes: black, walnut and white. Fine, because we were able to compare the different color versions. In all three cases we have worked with a veneer on MDF. The veneer in the three versions is rather dull than shiny, which is a plus in a living room where sometimes dust flies around. With the walnut and black version, the front is evenly black, which makes the dark metal rings around the drivers stand out nicely. The white version is somewhat more anonymous. It is striking that the walnut version in practice is a lot darker than what can be admired in the catalog and on the website of Mission.

The finish and build quality seem very consistent across the models. The 129 euro LX1 looks as good as the most expensive LX5, and that’s okay. You can have little criticism on the build quality. The corners of the housing are sharply aligned and the front lacks visible screws, which makes the LX speakers tighter and more interior-friendly. The back is less slick in terms of finish, but neat. That in itself is not so unusual at this price point. Be careful: you do not want to push these speakers against the wall. That is always a less good idea, but it happens more often in living rooms where space is limited or when appearance has priority. However, the LX speakers have an opening at the back to spread bass. If you block that, bass will be muted.

In this segment, people sometimes dare to save as far as the loudspeaker terminals are concerned, but the LX speakers come with free large terminals that can handle banana plugs and thicker cable. At the bottom, the LX floor uprights are provided with spikes and as usual the manufacturer supplies grilles with which you can cover the drivers. Striking in this area: the speaker grille remains magnetically in place, not through vulnerable plugs or the like. Usually a magnetic system is still something for the higher price range. Overall, the LX speakers just look solid. That is good, but it is also a synonym of not exciting or a little ground-breaking design.

Mission LX1, LX5 and LX-C: Recognizable driver setup

Anyone looking at the two-way LX1 and LX2 will immediately recognize something typical of Mission: the woofer is mounted higher and the tweeter is in the lowest position. Most loudspeaker builders prefer to place the tweeter at the top, at ear height. Mission does the opposite to just increase the distance between tweeter and ear, so according to the British company timing problems are avoided and the sound becomes more coherent.

The three-way LX5 floorstander is a heavier case, which is positive. In the budget segment, you sometimes encounter very light loudspeaker enclosures, which are more likely to suffer from resonance. However, Mission paid a lot of attention to the internal reinforcement of the cabinets, perhaps under the influence of designer Karl-Heinz Fink. The German engineer works for a variety of brands (such as the M-speakers from Boston Acoustics and recently Q Acoustics) and finds cupboard construction an absolute priority.

The LX-C has the same appearance as the rest: solid. The center speaker has a central tweeter (good!) That is flanked on both sides by a woofer. The LX-C is a fairly compact center. That’s nice if you want to place something small under your TV. At the same time, we often find a larger center speaker having added value because there is so much crucial audio data in that center channel.

Mission LX1, LX5 and LX-C: Adjust and ready

After connecting the speakers to the Denon receiver, the mandatory round calibration follows with the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 system. With the X6300H, that means eight measurements. You are busy with it, but also with speakers from this segment a measurement is very relevant. In this case, the calibration yields a result that we manually adjust a bit downwards for the rear channels, because the LX1s (which are used as rears) sound too strong.

The first thing we do is use the DTS 2016 test disc: a quick way to quickly present many different types of surround content. Then it is time for some films from the test library and via Netflix, which we play via the Marantz UD7007 connected to the receiver . Netflix, with its many content in Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, seems to be a typical source for someone who would build a price-conscious system.

For our 2-channel review ( read here on HiFi.nl ) the necessary music tracks were also listened to. Convenient, via the HEOS function of the AVR-X6300H , but for that test we switched after a while to the versatile Audiolab M-One integrated amplifier that included Quad-board.

An important prerequisite for a set of surround speakers is that all components sound equivalent. Otherwise, a particular channel can attract excessive attention and you do not have a good seamless transition with sound effects that move through space. Although the LX1 sounds a bit fiercer than the other speakers, the timbre-matching with the models we tested is quite good.

During one of our viewing sessions, we take Captain America: Civil War upstairs and switch off the subwoofer for a pure 5.0 setup. It is something that also comes back in our stereorecretion of the LX5: the LX5 floorstander produces quite a few basses, so you do not miss the sub right away. Well in a small room and if you do not pay a lot of attention to the layer view, of course. In busy action scenes where dialogues and explosions occur at the same time, the subwoofer without a dedicated subwoofer becomes woolly. A typical problem at this price point.

If we activate the sub again (and reset the receiver again), then the LX5 will get some breathing space and the whole sounds tighter. When in Civil War King T’Chaka gives a speech to the UN and suddenly an explosion takes place outside, and later in the film as Black Panter and the Cap behind the Winter Soldier, this LX-setup with sub that suddenly to be able to handle dynamic changes well. Really not bad.

We notice something important during our tests. Some LX speakers, such as the LX1 and LX-C, are relatively insensitive (85-87.5 dB). That means you have to supply more power to reach a certain volume level. The LX5 is remarkably easier to control. With that demanding character you have to take into account when shopping for a receiver to control these speakers. If we see that in the test without sub the volume knob of our higher Denon receiver must be opened quite far, then we suspect that this will mean a heavier test with an entry-level model. An entry-level receiver will have to work hard with these speakers in other words, and that can be a problem with really cheap models. The proposed capabilities are often not really available at those loosers when you really load all channels and at the top of their output the sound can become quite loud. In short, our choice for the AVR-X6300H is suddenly not surprising.

Mission LX1, LX5 and LX-C: conclusion

The LX series is true to the promise that Mission made: delivering a good sound for a very reasonable price, and that in an attractive package. Overall, these speakers all offer a very accessible sound that can appeal to a wide audience. Quite warm and not too bright maybe, especially with the LX5 a strongly present bass foundation that makes watching movies fun. Although in our opinion you will always have to add a subwoofer for a truly powerful home theater playback. Not really audiophile of sound, but made to enjoy.

If we judge the total surround package, the outcome is positive. The good score is mainly due to the well-performing LX5 floorstanders and the excellent LX1 bookshelf speakers for their price. The LX-C is somewhat weaker in this setup, also because of the contrast with the LX5s that are left and right of it. The center speaker sounds a bit too thin, which means that voices and sound effects in the center push away at loud moments. Compared to a prominent, equal-priced competitor as Monitor Audio’s Bronze series, then you have certain advantages with the LX. So you go home with Mission a bit cheaper, but with Monitor Audio you have more speaker options, including a handy FX surround speaker on the wall.

In terms of workmanship, Mission LX series is among the better. It is only a small difference, but we find it tighter for example than the Bowers & Wilkins 600 series. The B & W series does have some models that perform better, especially the 685 S2 and the two center speakers. The price tag is a bit higher there.

Review mission speakers

We think you can do even cheaper with Mission than with the tested setup, because the more expensive LX5 in a smaller space can be replaced by an LX3 or LX4. And they are still a lot cheaper – although you will soon need a separately purchased subwoofer. Surround, it is always choosing between many alternative scenarios …

What LX proves especially is that you can build a decent home theater with real surround for an acceptable price. Okay, a 5.1 soundbar is still going to be significantly cheaper, but the step of experiencing that you set with an all in all discrete surround setup is worth it for us. The Mission LX family is one of the better ranges to truly discover surround.

Negatives

  • LX-C is weaker
  • Step to LX5 costs something
  • More power with receiver is a must

Pros

  • Price / quality ratio is mustache
  • Powerful, accessible sound
  • Excellent detail for the segment

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