IKEA has recently been fully committed to the smart house. Not only does the Swedish furniture giant have various smart lamps in its assortment, you can also visit the company's smart speakers store soon. At least; multiroom speakers because integrated voice control is missing. IKEA introduced the Symfonisk series, currently consisting of the table lamp speaker and the bookshelf speaker. Both models have been developed together with Sonos and can therefore be used with the Sonos app. In this review we look at both new speakers in the Symfonisk series.
What is IKEA Symfonisk?
Symfonisk is a collaboration between the Swedish furniture giant IKEA and the audio experts from Sonos, resulting in a series of Wi-Fi speakers where design and quality are of paramount importance. The Symfonisk collection combines IKEA's knowledge of home furnishings and design with Sonos' expertise in sound and technology. IKEA therefore wants to make it possible to integrate audio into the house in a natural way, with the well-known IKEA design philosophy and with the low prices that we are used to from the company. Not only design, price and quality are paramount. Ease of use is also a very important part. The loudspeakers must be easy to install, use within a few seconds and be operated via a user-friendly app.
Both new speakers in the Symfonisk series have been developed by Sonos and IKEA. Sonos has taken responsibility for audio playback and that means that we are actually dealing with Sonos speakers in an IKEA jacket. The big advantage of this is that the speakers can be operated via the Sonos app and can communicate with other Sonos speakers in the house.
The Symfonisk table lamp is for sale for 179 euros, while the Symfonisk bookshelf speaker for 99, 95 euros can be bought.
Are they smart speakers?
Before we start the review, a frequently asked question must be answered; are the Symfonisk speakers smart speakers? The definition of “smart” varies a lot, but in principle the Symfonisk speakers are stupid multi-room speakers. This means that they can communicate with each other (and other Sonos speakers) but that they themselves do not have built-in support for speech assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. You can connect them to a speaker with this built-in support, for example the Sonos One or the Google Home. You can then ask the speech assistant to play music on the Symfonisk speakers.
However, in the near future (from October) it should be possible to connect the Symfonisk speakers to the IKEA Home Smart -app to connect them and use them in scenes in combination with smart lighting and smart roller blinds. For example, it must be possible to create a scene in which the light is dimmed, the music is switched on and the roller blinds go down. The speakers will therefore become smarter in the future.
With Symfonisk, IKEA focuses on the well-known “IKEA design”. Simplistic, sleek and timeless. Both speakers are also certain, but design remains a matter of taste. The bookshelf speaker is a fairly standard speaker in terms of appearance and will find its place in almost any interior. The speaker comes in a black and a white version, with anthracite and gray fabric on the front respectively.
The big advantage of this model is the flexibility. You can place the speaker anywhere, horizontally or vertically. According to IKEA, the speaker also fits perfectly in the KALLAX cabinets. In addition, you can buy a wall bracket that allows you to use the speaker as a wall shelf (with a maximum weight of 3 kg) and there is an accessory that allows you to hang the speaker on a kitchen rack. So you can go anywhere with it and thanks to the timeless design the speaker hardly stands out. The speaker has a sleek finish and feels high-quality.
The table lamp speaker stands out a bit more and is therefore a lot bigger. This speaker comes with a lamp and a hefty lampshade over it. At the bottom we find a speaker with a fabric covering with a lamp on top. There are currently two variants; a variant with a black fabric and a black lampshade (looks gold through the black shade) and a variant with a light gray fabric and a white lamp.
The glass lampshade is removable but currently there are no other variants of the hood for sale yet. The speaker itself is on a round base, where you can also find the physical buttons for operation. This model is more a matter of taste; you like it or not.
In our view, the black version is a bit more chic and stylish, but the black color of the shade makes you compromise on the brightness of the lamp. On the side of the table lamp speaker we see a rotary switch again. This somewhat large (and in our view not particularly beautiful) button lets you turn the lamp on and off. Unfortunately, the button gives no possibility to dim the lamp, which is a missed opportunity. Of course you can screw in a smart lamp (for example from IKEA) so that you can still dim the lamp. The table lamp speaker is also very nicely finished.
If we know one thing from both IKEA and Sonos, the installation must be very simple. And that is no different with the Symfonisk speakers. The speakers are installed within a few minutes and can be used almost immediately. And the great thing is; we had no screw or nut left.
It is actually very simple; both speakers are in the basic Sonos speakers and are therefore installed as you would any other Sonos speaker. You download the Sonos app, register yourself, set up a new network and let the app search for new speakers. Once found, you go through a number of short steps, you place the speaker in a specific room, you give the animal a name and in the last step you can tune the speaker to the room using Trueplay. Trueplay is a very useful Sonos function that you use to optimize audio playback. You do this by having the speaker play sounds and by buying through the room with your smartphone. Sonos analyzes the sounds that come in on your phone and can estimate how the sound moves in the room. After a few minutes of listening and analyzing, the audio reproduction is optimized for the room in which the speaker is placed. This works on both models and is an important part for the audio experience.
Having Trueplay on it also makes it easier to position the table lamp speaker and bookshelf speaker. The table lamp speaker is a bit more sensitive to where you place it, but when the placement is not optimal you can correct this nicely with Trueplay. The bookshelf speaker can also be placed vertically, in a cupboard and against the wall or rack. If you use the speaker as a shelf you can place up to 3 kilograms of objects on it. Together with the wall bracket, a mat is supplied so that objects remain stable on the speaker.
Operation (Sonos app)
Both speakers can be operated via the Sonos app, the same app as standard. with which you can operate speakers from Sonos. According to IKEA, this is the perfect basis for operating your music. From August, however, the speakers can also be operated via the Home Smart app (formerly Trådfri app) from IKEA. Through this app you can already control the smart lighting from IKEA . The app also allows you to create scenarios in combination with smart lighting from IKEA or the smart blinds to be published in August . As soon as the August update has been rolled out, you can therefore coordinate your blinds, lighting and speakers and use them together in scenes.
In this review we focus on the Sonos app, and we have already had that in various reviews. thoroughly reviewed. The Sonos app is one of the most user-friendly apps for multi-room audio systems and the IKEA Symfonisk speakers benefit from that. The installation is, as stated, simple and the use of the app is no different. Sonos offers access to a large number of services that allow you to stream music, including Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Deezer, Google Play Music, Napster, Tidal and Qobuz. You can also easily play music stored locally, via your smartphone or the Plex app, for example. The app has been given a logical layout and also works smoothly and quickly.
In the Sonos app you have various tabs that give you access to music and various functions. The first tab is ‘My Sonos’ where you get an overview of recently played music and music saved as a favorite. The “Browse” tab gives you access to the linked services or local media within which you can browse for the desired music. In the “Rooms” tab you can see the speakers that are linked per room. Click on a room and you can immediately adjust the music playback. The fourth tab is “search” with which you can search within all linked services and sources. And to fate you can adjust the settings at “More”. Here you can add speakers, add music services, set alarms and access the general settings. At the general settings you can make adjustments per room and speaker, including changing names, performing Trueplay tuning and adjusting the equalizer. You will also find settings for managing the local music library, music services and parental controls here.
So you can easily control the music via the Sonos app, but that is not necessary. After all, the speakers also have Spotify Connect, so you can control them directly via the Spotify app. In addition, there is support for Apple Airplay 2 with which the speakers can be controlled in different rooms directly from an Apple device and with which you can use Siri (via a detour) to play music on the Symfonisk via a voice command speakers. Finally, you can also operate the speakers with speech if you have a speaker with a microphone (Google Home, Sonos One, etc.) at home.
Do you prefer to operate the speakers physically? A special Symfonisk remote control also appears in October. With this you can control the music playback with a simple push of a button. Next year, a physical Home Smart remote control must also be released with which you can start up scenes from the Home Smart app. And not to forget; there are also physical buttons on the speakers themselves with which you can control the volume and play / pause.
We have already briefly discussed a number of options for using the Symfonisk table lamp speaker and bookshelf speaker above. For example, you can use the speakers as multi-room speakers thanks to the Sonos app, AirPlay 2, but also platforms such as Google Home. With the “traditional” multiroom setup, however, it doesn't end. You can also use the Symfonisk speakers in a stereo pair or as surround speakers. You can connect two table lamp speakers or two book shelf speakers to each other and set them as a stereo pair via the Sonos app. This means that the left speaker displays the left channel and the right speaker displays the right channel. If you already have a Sonos Beam or Sonos Playbar at the television, you can even set the Symfonisk speakers as surround speakers via the Sonos app. You then place the speakers in the back of the room, behind the listening position, to display the surround effects. So basically the same applies for these IKEA speakers as for any other Sonos speaker, and the possibilities are therefore endless. You can use all Sonos and IKEA speakers together, add new speakers and link different speakers together.
Looking purely at our situation, with a Sonos One as an extra speaker, we opted for a multiroom setup where every speaker is placed in its own space. This went very smoothly; with smooth operation, virtually no delay between rooms and therefore an almost perfect multi-room experience. Voice control, through the Sonos One and the Google Assistant, also worked great.
Still, the placement is a thing, especially with regard to the table lamp speaker. After all, you do not put a lamp everywhere and hanging up becomes completely difficult. You must therefore have room for it and it must match your interior. That is purely personal of course and if you prefer a comparable speaker without a lamp, you can also go for the Sonos One. The table lamp speaker is supplied without a lamp, so you have to look for a lamp with an E14 fitting yourself. Our advice is to choose a smart lamp (for example from IKEA) so that you have the choice of brightness and perhaps even color. As mentioned, you cannot dim the lamp with the button, so you will have to do it in a different way. Keep in mind that the black lamp also has a black shade and therefore allows less light through. Unfortunately we were unable to test the bookshelf speaker with a wall bracket, but we could test it in a KALLAX cabinet and separately on a cabinet. The placement options and the simple design make this the most flexible speaker of the two.
The expectations in terms of sound quality are high, despite the fact that we are dealing with relatively cheap speakers. This is of course because Sonos has developed the loudspeakers, and the table lamp speaker in particular must be very successful. This model is basically a Sonos One speaker. According to IKEA and Sonos, the audio performance must therefore be comparable to that of the Sonos One, and we were already enthusiastic about that model. The bookshelf speaker has been completely redesigned from the ground up and should fall just below the performance of the table lamp speaker. Both models have two Class D amplifiers, a tweeter and a mid-woofer.
We therefore start with the table lamp speaker, a model that thanks to its shape already has a better spread through the space. should give. And that is the first thing that stands out; a wide sound field that can actually fill a room without any problems. Also surprising is that the small speaker offers a surprisingly low layer, and it is also controlled. There is some detail missing here and there in the low, but the low tones are clearly present without dominating. At the same time, the central area is relatively well represented, with warm and clear sounds and a not too steep roll-off towards the high. High tones are not far forward but are sufficiently present for a balanced picture. So there is a good balance in the audio reproduction, with sufficient dynamics and detail, and also a relatively accurate placement. If we turn up the volume a bit, the table lamp speaker doesn't seem to have much trouble with this. At maximum volume it starts to get messy, but the speaker holds up long enough to perform comfortably even during music. The table lamp speaker is not a hi-fi speaker, but it is a very good multi-room speaker that allows you to enjoy music well beyond expectations. Trueplay calibration is also highly recommended, especially since this speaker is often placed in a corner or against a wall. Unfortunately, support for (some) Android phones is not yet available, due to the well-known hardware diversity issue. By the way, if you have the option to place two speakers in a room as a stereo setup, then that is definitely advisable. This makes the reproduction even more impressive, especially with a clearer sound image and better placement in the room.
The expectations of the bookshelf-speaker were slightly higher, given its price tag of just under 100 euros, but this model still convinces us reasonably. However, this speaker is clearly a step lower than its more expensive brother. The sound image is a lot less wide, the audio playback is a bit more closed, the range is a bit lower and the bass sounds less convincing (really depends on the placement as well). Still, the audio reproduction still knows how to score a nice enough, especially considering the price. A space like a bedroom is well filled with a dynamic sound, with sufficient detail and warm mid-tones. The treble disappears somewhat and in the middle range the real dynamics are lacking to make it lively, but both are not to the extent that it really influences the listening experience negatively. In addition, the speaker gets a bit faster than his more expensive brother, especially with harder and more intense music. Then it lacks real control and high tones seem to be snowing fast under the violence of the low and middle. When we set the volume to 70 percent, the speaker has a hard time and it no longer sounds as tight and controlled. The bass then dominates too much, so that the balance disappears. It is the model of the two speakers that is more for “there” and – we think – will also come into its own better in a stereo set-up. For a relatively small space such as a bedroom, an office or a kitchen, however, this is a very decent multi-room speaker with which you can play your favorite music in more than excellent quality. You will not find better for this money, especially in combination with all the benefits of the Sonos ecosystem.
Overall, IKEA and Sonos have a very interesting proposition on the market with the Symfonisk speakers. provided with a perfect price-quality ratio. Especially for those without a big budget for audio who still want a good sound and want to integrate this stylishly into the living environment, the Symfonisk speakers are a great solution. In terms of audio playback, we are particularly impressed by the table lamp speaker, which is actually a Sonos One. The bookshelf speaker is more the speaker for a small space or for an extra room, and is better off in a stereo setup. The speakers are very easy to use, have a sleek and timeless design and can be paired with other Symfonisk or Sonos speakers. The flexible placement of the bookshelf speaker in particular is a nice plus. There are also minor downsides, including the large button on the table lamp speaker that unfortunately cannot be used to dim and the fact that no lamp is supplied. All in all, the IKEA Symfonisk speakers are the perfect first step for consumers who want to add multiroom audio to their lifestyle.