Sonos and IKEA’s home decor meets smart speaker collaboration has an interesting challenge: will it blend? Not in the squeeze-it-in-a-blender sense; will it blend in with your home and fit your taste?
Like sound, design preference is highly subjective. What’s not is just how versatile the new SYMFONISK lineup can be. Sonos and IKEA have bundled a Play:1 level Wi-Fi speaker inside a table lamp and bookshelf end cap. Useful features and attractive prices make both speakers worth considering even if you’re not in the Sonos ecosystem.
Smart as Sonos
Sonos didn’t hold any features back when creating SYMFONISK speakers with IKEA. Both Wi-Fi speakers are real Sonos speakers with features like Trueplay audio tuning, integration with Apple Music streaming, and support for wirelessly playing audio with AirPlay 2.
Apple AirPlay 2 speakers including the table lamp and bookshelf speakers let you wirelessly beam audio including music and podcasts from Apple devices. You can also assign each speaker to a room in your home using HomeKit and Apple’s Home app. This lets you use Siri voice control to send audio from iPhones, iPads, HomePods, and Apple TVs to AirPlay 2 speakers.
Neither speaker includes built-in voice control and both lack microphones found on other Sonos speakers, although those omissions could be seen as positives for privacy-focused users.
Even without mics included, any Sonos system can be controlled with Amazon Echo and Google Assistant smart speakers and inputs when connected through the Sonos app. For the most integration with the Apple ecosystem, HomePod is still the (premium) smart speaker to beat.
If you’re already in the Sonos ecosystem, the two SYMFONISK speakers fit in with your existing system just like any other Sonos Wi-Fi speaker.
The long-awaited collaboration between Sonos and IKEA starts with two speaker types, each with black or white color options, as the beginning of the new SYMFONISK lineup.
Both the table lamp and bookshelf speaker are sonically similar with audio comparable to the entry-level Sonos One (or Sonos Play:1) Wi-Fi speakers. Priced from $99 to $179, the first two SYMFONISK speakers won’t deliver the punch that Apple’s $300 HomePod and Sonos’ $500 Play:5 will, but both push impressive sound for under $200.
Under the fabric wrap are forward-facing speakers on both options — no 360º sound even on the table lamp speaker despite its HomePod-like appearance — but Sonos Trueplay is effective at tuning speakers with acoustically challenged placement.
The $179 table lamp is the higher priced Wi-Fi speaker in the set.
The base includes three buttons for controlling volume and playback below a status light that can be disabled through software. The speaker layer is hidden under a white or black soft fabric that wraps around all sides.
The back of the lamp includes an inset cutout for an Ethernet port for use without Wi-Fi in contrast to Apple’s Wi-Fi-dependent HomePod. An Ethernet port on a table lamp certainly doesn’t help with the furniture-not-speaker illusion, but it’s not an eyesore if you can keep it out of view. Sonos and IKEA also include a removable power cable with a friendly fabric cover.
A giant knob on the right side of the table lamp lets you turn the bulb on and off without powering down the speaker half of the product. There’s no dimming control, but there is a satisfactory sturdiness to the switch.
The table lamp’s shade is a replaceable, hefty glass top that screws off to reveal the bulb slot. There are no smart light features built-in and you supply your own bulb, but the table lamp can turn smart with the right bulb just like any lamp.
The knob placement for turning the lamp portion on and off is worth noting for two reasons. The first is simple ergonomics. While testing the SYMFONISK table lamp as my bedside light, I noticed that the switch can be hard to reach if it faces away from your side of the bed.
Smart control aside, the bulb size requirement is the biggest drawback to lighting. Sonos and IKEA chose to support 7W candle bulbs in this version which usually aren’t bright enough to light a room. Lower brightness levels mixed with the opaque glass cover limit the table lamp’s utility as a single light source and make it more ideal for mood lighting.
Two of the same Sonos speakers can be paired to create a single stereo system, and that’s true for the table lamp as well. A pair of table lamps on either side of a bed or couch could help with the light levels while creating a unique stereo system.
Also recall that both Sonos speakers are forward-facing so the best sound is experienced when the front of the speaker is aimed toward you. With light knob placement and sound quality in mind, I’ve angled the table lamp to point toward the front corner of my nightstand. That’s not the ideal position with that Ethernet port and power cord in mind for me, but it’s worth the tradeoff.
Sonically, the speaker inside is remarkable for what you might expect inside a table lamp. Sonos lets you adjust the bass, treble, and loudness levels of each speaker if you don’t rely on Trueplay. Adjusting the treble upward in my case was perfect for balancing the sound without losing the bass response.
Apple’s HomePod can be too punchy even at low volumes which can be overkill for a nightstand; the Sonos sound with bass and treble control can be safer in this environment for noise conscious listeners.
The bookshelf speaker may be the less interesting product visually, but a lower price and straightforward look make its appeal more general. Available in black or white, this AirPlay 2 Wi-Fi speaker can stand tall or sit flat to tuck away on a shelf or use as end caps between books.
The front features a textured fabric cover over the front-facing speaker while the sides are flat plastic. Like the table lamp, the bookshelf speaker can be paired with another bookshelf speaker to create a stereo system. This speaker can also be wall mounted or placed on a mounted shelf sold from IKEA.
When using the speaker as an end cap for books on a shelf, the Wi-Fi speaker just begs to become a stereo pair — not a bad AirPlay 2 solution for $200.
Adjusting the treble settings upward on the bookshelf speaker just like with the table lamp met my audio needs for a speaker this size, and for $99 you can easily buy a worse speaker with far fewer features.
For my own home, the bookshelf speaker is a natural fit today. I would love a version of the table lamp that offered no knob at all, relying on a smart bulb with remote control instead, and a smaller or removed plastic base on the bottom to reduce the footprint. There’s also an opportunity for an upgraded version that supports higher wattage bulbs for emitting more light in a room.
If you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem, many of Sonos’ Wi-Fi speakers mesh well. Sonos supports Apple Music on all of its speakers, and AirPlay 2 which works with SYMFONISK is also supported on Sonos One, the second-gen Sonos Play:5, Sonos Beam, and Sonos Playbase.
Only at IKEA
The new Sonos + IKEA SYMFONISK Wi-Fi speakers are sold exclusively from IKEA online and in stores. SYMFONISK won’t be ideal for customers looking for voice control features or the most premium audio experience, but the new table lamp and bookshelf speakers are the start of a new direction for Sonos — one that will likely welcome new users to the Sonos ecosystem.
The new $179 table lamp and $99 bookshelf speakers reduce the price for a Sonos AirPlay 2 speaker considering the $199 Sonos One price and lack of AirPlay 2 on the $149 Sonos Play:1.
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