The makers of one of our favorite high-end powered speakers of recent years has joined forces with the fourth-largest U.S. cable-TV company to build a luxurious Alexa-enabled speaker. But it will cost a pretty penny.
Slated to go on sale later this year, the Altice Amplify is like a souped-up Amazon Echo that’s compatible with the Altice One, a combination modem/router/streaming device for Optimum cable subscribers.
The premium speaker comes equipped with three full-range drivers and a pair of woofers designed by Devialet, makers of a range of high-end audio devices that typically sell for well north of $1,000. We tried the Devialet Phantom speaker back in 2015 and called it “indescribably delicious,” despite its eye-popping $1,990 price tag.
Like Devialet’s other speakers, the Altice Amplify won’t be cheap, although at least it won’t be as pricey as the Phantom: think $400 for Optimum and Suddenlink subscribers, or $500 for everyone else. That said, if you already have the Altice One, you’ll be able to rent the Amplify for $10 per month.
Thanks to Alexa, you can order the Amplify to read you the news, play some tunes, check the weather, or control compatible smart home devices—in other words, pretty much anything you can do on one of Amazon’s (far less expensive) Echo devices.
The Altice Amplify also lets you take charge of the Altice One, perfect for using voice commands to change channels and launching apps on your TV.
The speaker’s six far-field microphones are designed to pick up your voice even if the volume on your TV is cranked up, and there’s also a mic mute button if you want the Amplify to stop listening.
Besides queuing up Spotify playlists, reading the latest headlines, and turning your lights on and off, the Amplify could also be used as a TV speaker, complete with an “Adaptive Volume Level” feature that (similar to many TVs and A/V receivers) normalizes the volume to boost quiet dialog scenes while keeping action scenes from shattering your windows.
Whether the Amplify will be able replace a soundbar or a set of home theater speakers remains, of course, an open question. We’ll weigh in once we give it a listen.