Former Apple product designer aims to envelop listeners in spatial audio
A premium audio startup from an ex-Apple design veteran has launched a striking streaming speaker called the Cell Alpha, which uses three drivers and two woofers to immerse listeners in room-filling spatial sound.
The flagship Cell Alpha is the brainchild of Christopher Stringer, who has had a hand in Apple's most iconic products for the last 20 years or so, including iPhones, Macbooks and the Apple Watch. It's described as the world's first Triphonic speaker, where the device creates a spatial sound zone that envelops the listener in a "fully immersive experience that puts you inside your favorite music and entertainment."
The spatial audio technology makes use of three speaker elements configured in a two-way beamforming array to project sound into a room with precision placement and localization, while two subwoofers in opposing configuration take care of the bass end. Stringer's company, Syng, reckons that the experience will be like nothing you've heard before.
Three microphones are present too, which help the system automatically fill out a room with sound, compensating for a space adversely impacting on bass performance, as well as using signal processing to counter any interference that its walls might throw into the mix. The mic array is also used to calculate multiple Cell Alpha setups.
For those who like more control, listeners will also be able to manually position sound where they want courtesy of a mobile app called Syng Space, as well as move elements around if the mood suits, tighten the zone or expand it out, and more. Bluetooth LE is included for setup, discovery and tracking of multi-speaker configurations.
Audio can be streamed to the Cell Alpha over 802.11ac Wi-Fi via AirPlay 2, or users can access Spotify Connect to meet their listening needs. There are two USB-C ports for cabling up a music source directly, and a sync cable is incoming that will allow users to connect the speaker(s) to a TV.
Each spatial audio orb is has a diameter of 11.8 in (300 mm) and is 12 in (304 mm) high, and tips the scales at 12.8 lb (5.8 kg). The unit comes with a table stand, though modular floor stands are also optionally available.
The company says that the system architecture has been designed to "evolve, expand, and advance" as time goes on, with no planned obsolescence. And interestingly, the speaker has been developed with repairability in mind, though it's unclear whether such things would need to be undertaken by authorized technicians or if users can get under the hood themselves and tinker.
Syng says that one Cell Alpha should be enough to fill a room with "an expansive full-range sound field," but two units will fill out the zone even more and add more power to the mix, while three will give you "the fullest expression of Triphonic audio." At US$1,799 per speaker though, multi-Cell setups will seriously eat into your savings.