Christopher Stringer, an ex-Apple designer who has worked on everything from the HomePod to the original iPhone during his 22 years at the company, has unveiled the debut speaker of his new startup. It’s called the Cell Alpha, a futuristic Death Star-shaped connected speaker with an emphasis on spatial audio. It costs $ 1,799, or $ 1,969 if you want the floor-standing model.
The Cell Alpha has top and bottom woofers arranged in a force-balanced configuration. These are combined with three mid-range drivers scattered around the equator, where they are believed to be accompanied by a small thermal exhaust port – the Cell Alpha’s only known weakness. Jokes aside, Stringer’s company Syng claims that this three-driver configuration (dubbed “The Triphone”) is capable of projecting sound into a room with “pinpoint accuracy”.
Syng makes big claims about the Cell Alpha’s spatial audio capabilities. Styled as the world’s first “Triphonic” speaker, it offers spatial audio capabilities beyond the stereo sound that has long been the traditional standard. In practice, it should allow the speaker to fill an entire room with surround sound audio, giving the impression that specific sounds or instruments are coming from different parts of the room. Three microphones are built into the speaker’s stand to measure room geometry, similar to the HomePod, giving the impression of surround sound from just a single speaker.
While Syng says a single speaker is capable of providing surround sound, with $ 5,397 to spend, anyone can link three Cell Alpha speakers together in a single room to get “the most complete expression of Triphonic audio.” According to a report by the Financial times, Syng hopes to generate revenue from licensing its audio technology in addition to hardware sales.
In terms of connectivity, Syng says the Cell Alpha supports AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect over Wi-Fi. Physical connectivity is handled by a pair of USB-C ports, and Syng also says it plans to release a USB-C to HDMI cable to allow the Cell Alpha to connect to TVs (it can also sound of a TV using AirPlay). A companion Syng Space app is available for installation and playback control.
Syng currently has approximately 50 employees according to Wired, and reportedly raised $ 15 million in funding. The FTLast year’s report stated that these employees are ex-Apple designers and engineers, as well as former Nest, Ring, Nike and Facebook employees. Others have reportedly joined audio companies Harman and Bowers & Wilkins.
The Cell Alpha is now available for purchase on the Syng website. At the time of writing, it is expected to ship within six to eight weeks.