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Sound by Sonos, style by Ikea: that’s the formula behind the Swedish brand’s new Symfonisk WiFi speakers. But no, they won't come flat-packed and require assembly.
The Symfonisk Table Lamp ($269) and Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker ($149), which launch in Australia on 27 September 2019, are the first sweet-sounding fruit of a Sonos-Ikea partnership which reshapes high-tech speakers into unobtrusive pieces of homeware.
It’s a canny collaboration which gives Sonos a leg-up into the mainstream market while adding a hero product to Ikea’s growing smart home range.
Most importantly, these Scandi-speakers are 100% Sonos. They seamlessly tap into and expand an existing Sonos network, working side by side with your current Sonos kit, are controlled by the Sonos app, and boast Sonos’ clarity, broad soundscape and dial-it-up punch. All they lack is the Google and Amazon voice control of the latest-generation Sonos gear.
Ikea’s role is in wrapping Sonos’ acoustic and wireless streaming smarts into clever contemporary design with blends into the home rather than standing out.
However, the Symfonisk pieces also hit a sub-Sonos price point which could make them a ‘gateway drug’ to a multiroom music system. They can even be paired together in the same room for stereo.
Symfonisk Table Lamp
This curious speaker-lamp crossover packs the same audio architecture as the Sonos Play:1 and Sonos One, and has roughly the same compact footprint but in a more organic rounded form.
It certainly doesn’t look like a speaker, and that’s the whole idea: the Symfonisk Table Lamp could easily sit in a living room or bedroom without drawing attention.
The speaker is wrapped in a soft-touch textured sleeve of neutral colours – your choice of light grey or charcoal – and crowned by a frosted diffuser, while the circular base houses play/pause and volume controls.
Quirky? Yes. Practical? Without a doubt. Combining a lamp and speaker means you get cosy lighting and relaxing beats, ideal for corner table or bedside.
Drop in an LED WiFi smart bulb such as Philips Hue, LIFX or Ikea’s own Trådfri and you can really fine-tune the mood.
“The lamp-speaker partly springs from the idea of the fireplace” explains Ikea designer Iina Vuorivirta – “one single piece that spreads warm light as well as sound.”
As lamps tend to be needed in a particular part of a room, usually against a wall or in a corner, Sonos’ sound-tuning software shapes the audio to suit the lamp’s location and makes a noticeable difference to your listening.
Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker
The rectangular Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker is a very different play to the Table Lamp, and is built around an all-new Sonos sound enclosure created expressly for this Ikea collaboration.
The name is a double-banger: this compact speaker can be a wall-mounted bookshelf on its own, capable of holding up to to 3kg (sufficient for a small houseplant), or sit on a bookshelf – as you’d expect, it slides snugly into Ikea’s storage units such as the Kallax.
It can also serve as a bookend and be mounted in or hung from Ikea’s space-saving kitchen racks and railings.
At $149, the Symfonisk Bookshelf Speaker lands as the most affordable member of the Sonos family.
The audio isn’t as powerful as the Sonos One-based Table Lamp, although you won’t notice without a side-by-side comparison, and obviously it has only front-facing drivers, but that’s all you will need in many situations.
Another use for the bookshelf speaker, and one which could be especially appealing given its low price, is to group two of them with your TV’s Sonos Playbar or Beam soundbar and Sonos Sub as a fast track to 5.1 ‘home cinema’ surround sound.
Finally, as an alternative to firing up the Sonos app to control these speakers, Ikea also offers a small white puck-like $20 remote control to adjust the volume, play or pause the music and skip between tracks. However, this has to be partnered with the $39 Trådfri gateway which acts as a hub for all Ikea Smart Home products.