clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cable operator Altice is making a $400 Alexa speaker with audiophile-grade sound

New, 7 comments

What’s the ceiling for how much people will spend on a smart speaker?

Image: Altice

Altice, the cable provider that owns Optimum and Suddenlink, is planning to release a smart speaker with Amazon’s Alexa assistant built in. The device, called the Altice Amplify, will allow customers to change channels and control other functions of their TV without reaching for the remote. It’ll also offer quick access to popular streaming apps like Netflix on the company’s Altice One cable system.

But Altice is trying to differentiate in an area that you wouldn’t expect from a cable company: sound quality. The Amplify will feature technology from Devialet, a French company (that specializes in high-fi audio. A few years ago, my colleague Dan Seifert wrote about how Devialet was trying to put its sound into a range of products, and the Amplify is a clear example of that strategy.

Image: Altice

Obviously, I can’t speak to how this thing sounds at the moment — it’s not going to ship until sometime in the fall — but here’s the press release rundown on the Amplify’s audio performance:

Altice Amplify features Devialet’s patented sound technologies including:

SPACE™ sound processing, a unique spatialization technology developed to deliver rich and balanced sound with room-wide diffusion

Speaker Active Matching (SAM®) technology, which perfectly renders the original intent of the content creator with high-fidelity sound reproduction, minimizing latency and distortion so every audio experience, from a movie or a song, comes through in its truest form

Adaptive Volume Level (AVL™), which automatically detects and adjusts volume, eliminating the need to manually adjust volume at key moments, which is particularly important when watching video content like movies (ie: increase volume for dialogue or lower volume during action sequences)

Altice Amplify tightly packs two long stroke Diamond woofers, designed by Devialet, and a 19v, 7.5 A peak amp into its low-distortion, full-range design, with a “push-push” configuration that cancels vibrations and delivers implosive bass from a compact, stand-alone device

Altice Amplify’s six far-field microphones are engineered to pick up sound from across the room, even if the TV is on, with an instant mute button to turn off listening when necessary

And yes, Altice is highlighting that the Amplify supports streaming from Tidal, since there’s always a limit as to how good you can make compressed music from Spotify or Amazon Music sound.

Altice is planning to price its smart speaker in line with high-end speakers and far above the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or more premium options like Apple’s HomePod or the Sonos One. The Amplify will cost $399 for Optimum and Suddenlink customers, and it jumps up to a staggering $499 for non-customers. Customers with Altice One will be able to rent the Amplify for $10 per month. It’ll be sold in Altice’s cable stores and also direct from Amazon.com.

That sort of asking price will get Altice laughed out of the room if the Amplify doesn’t deliver on its promise of incredible sound reproduction. Even if the audio is ear-melting, this is probably going to be a tough sell for the average Altice customer. And for those who don’t have Optimum or Suddenlink? There is a range of other products that can get them Alexa and hands-free TV control for less.

Still, I’m genuinely curious about what Altice can deliver here, and I’m looking forward to trying out the Amplify at some point.