Mis­sion LX-3

FOR Con­trolled and ar­tic­u­late sound; good in­te­gra­tion; build AGAINST Sound lacks a lit­tle en­thu­si­asm and ex­cite­ment

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The Mis­sion LX 3s’ recipe for suc­cess looks like a sure-fire win­ner. Take the Award-win­ning LX 2 stand­mounter, add an­other mid/bass driver and make the cab­i­net big­ger to by­pass the need for a stand. The ex­tra drive unit and big­ger box pretty much guar­an­tee more bass and higher vol­ume lev­els. Just keep the price sen­si­ble, as Mis­sion has, and what could go wrong?

But things aren’t quite as straightforward as they ap­pear. These speak­ers do in­deed de­liver on both low-fre­quency quan­tity and loud­ness lev­els, but also lose out to their stand­mounter rel­a­tive in other ar­eas.

Good first im­pres­sions

Take the LX 3s out of their pack­ag­ing and there’s plenty to ad­mire. They feel solid, thanks to care­ful brac­ing of the 92cm tall cab­i­net, and there’s enough in the way of neat cos­metic de­tail­ing to make them look smart and rel­a­tively el­e­gant. There are three fin­ish op­tions – the black of our re­view sam­ple as well as white and wal­nut al­ter­na­tives. Weight­wise they’re typ­i­cal, com­ing in at just un­der 15kg.

We know the drive units well. They im­pressed us in the LX 2s, though here Mis­sion’s en­gi­neers have dou­bled up on the 13cm mid/bass unit and placed the 25mm mi­crofi­bre dome tweeter in the mid­dle, in a D’ap­polito con­fig­u­ra­tion. This kind of ar­range­ment helps with on-axis dis­per­sion.

He re­quired

The cross­over point is set at 2.2khz, which is fairly stan­dard – al­though, at just short of 87db/w/m, the claimed sen­si­tiv­ity is be­hind some­thing such as the £300 Tan­noy Eclipse 3s’ su­pe­rior 90db/w/m. This means that, all things be­ing equal, the LX 3 re­quires a fair bit more power from the am­pli­fier to achieve the same kind of vol­ume lev­els as its ri­val.

At least these Missions are fairly flex­i­ble when it comes to po­si­tion­ing. Though at their best around 40cm away from the rear wall in our test room, they can be placed even closer thanks to the use of the op­tional port-block­ing foam bungs – each speaker has two rear-fir­ing ports to help tune the bass fre­quen­cies. We an­gle the LX 3s to­wards our lis­ten­ing spot to get a more fo­cused pre­sen­ta­tion.

Con­nec­tion is by sin­gle-wire ter­mi­nals only – and that’s per­fectly fine by us. It’s far bet­ter to have a good sin­gle-wire run of ca­ble than two sets of more com­pro­mised al­ter­na­tives.

Once up and run­ning, the Missions turn in a per­for­mance that’s a mix­ture of the fa­mil­iar and the sur­pris­ing. The gen­eral tonal bal­ance is even and nicely judged, and com­mend­ably sim­i­lar to the LX 2 standmounters we like so much.

Most floor­standers of this price have more bass than their stand­mount rel­a­tives, but it tends to be less well in­te­grated. That’s not the case here. The LX 3s’ lows blend seam­lessly with the midrange and are de­liv­ered with enough skill to cope well with the com­plex, weav­ing bassline of Van Mor­ri­son’s Moon­dance.

The pre­sen­ta­tion as a whole is pretty de­tailed, ag­ile and sur­pris­ingly ar­tic­u­late with an ex­plicit midrange and de­cently re­fined tre­ble. Only when we push the speak­ers hard do the high fre­quen­cies turn a lit­tle sharp, but even then they fall short of outright harsh­ness.

A big­ger chal­lenge

Mov­ing to some­thing more large-scale – Holst’s Jupiter – shows the LX 3s clearly have more in the way of dy­namic reach and low-end ex­ten­sion than their smaller sib­lings. It’s noth­ing out of the or­di­nary among their di­rect ri­vals, but they can ren­der a pleas­ingly ex­pan­sive sound­stage and pop­u­late it with a good amount of care and pre­ci­sion.

While ca­pa­ble in most re­spects, these speak­ers lack a de­gree of en­thu­si­asm, some­thing we wouldn’t say about the LX 2s or the Tannoys. They play safe even when the mu­sic de­mands some­thing more ad­ven­tur­ous. Jupiter should thrill with its majesty and deeply con­trast­ing dy­nam­ics – but, through the Missions, we re­spect rather than love what we hear. We feel in­formed rather than in­spired. Sim­i­larly, Moon­dance’s sense of joy is dulled a touch thanks to slight short­com­ings in the speaker’s abil­ity to con­vey sub­tle shifts in mo­men­tum and the ten­dency to put con­trol ahead of ex­pres­sion.

There’s no deny­ing that the LX 3s are com­pe­tent and in­for­ma­tive speak­ers, but af­ter the ex­cel­lence of their smaller sib­lings, not to men­tion the likes of Tan­noy’s far cheaper Eclipse Threes, we’re left want­ing a lit­tle more.

“The pre­sen­ta­tion is pretty de­tailed ag­ile and ar­tic­u­late, with an ex­plicit midrange and re­fined tre­ble”

Plac­ing the tweeter be­tween the mid/bass driv­ers aids dis­per­sion

Foam bungs in the rear ports can bring po­si­tion­ing flex­i­blil­ity

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