Review: SYMFONISK, Affordable Sonos With One Strange Design
With the average cost of Sonos speakers hovering around the $600 mark, it’s no wonder the company is struggling at the moment.
But business news aside, the Swedish guys over at IKEA managed to buddy up with the high-end speaker company to bring you the SYMFONISK series.
SYMFONISK is a partnership between audio and home furnishing experts to create two speakers that, according to IKEA, ‘blend into the home in new ways’ making ‘it easier to furnish with sound’.
Both speakers are available in black and white, with the Table Lamp version priced at $269 and the Bookshelf speaker at $149.
Support is available for a range of different music streaming services, along with support for AirPlay 2 and the IKEA Home Smart app, alongside compatibility with other SONOS speakers.
Though that’s without any smart assistant compatibility, making both speakers intelligent, but not quite smart speakers.
Plus thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity, both SYMFONISK speakers will continue to stream music even when your phone or tablet is not around.
Bluetooth, however, is not supported meaning users will need to connect to the home network in order to play music.
Starting the range off is the Wi-Fi bookshelf speaker, an extraordinarily versatile and stylish device that legitimately doubles as a bookshelf thanks to optional wall mounts.
Called the ‘best sound shelf in the world’ the SYMFONISK Bookshelf speaker outputs high-quality audio while also saving on space.
Used as either a bedside shelf for books or in the kitchen as a sound blasting spice rack, the speaker is a real utility piece.
Andreas Fredriksson, an IKEA designer, describes it as no ordinary speaker, ‘it’s great tucked away in the bookshelf or put on display’.
The speaker can be positioned horizontally or straight up thanks to the silicone feet on the base of the speaker, and on the base below the media controls.
Paired with the optional KUNGFORS rail or rack, users can hang their speaker up on the wall using the speaker hooks for $10 or a wall bracket for $20 – both available in black and white.
Moving onto the much stranger looking Table Lamp SYMFONISK speaker, and well, there’s no hiding it’s phallic shape and design.
Sporting the same rich and vibrant sound as it’s Bookshelf buddy, the Table Lamp comes with a much stronger bass response, it’s not the sound quality that’s letting this speaker down, it’s the way it looks.
While the design may suit some IKEA fans, it does nothing for me.
The table lamp speaker hybrid features a massive glass lampshade that sits around a tiny E14 LED bulb – which is sold separately.
On the side of the lamp is a simple light switch, above the media controls on the unit base.
It should be noted that turning off the lamp does not turn off the speaker.
At the back of the unit is the power port and an ethernet port, which is not featured on the bookshelf version.
I think the only part of the design I enjoy is the little jumper that’s been wrapped around the body of the lamp.
According to IKEA designer, Lina Vuorivirta, ‘the lamp-speaker partly springs from the idea of the fireplace – one single piece that spreads warm light as well as sound’.
‘We knew from the start that we wanted to challenge the traditional high-tech aesthetics’.
Challenge them they have, but personally, I’m not a fan.
Where I think IKEA went wrong here is not incorporating more of its smart home tech into the final design.
Considering its size, the base of the table lamp could have easily included the TRÅDFRI smart hub to control what should have been a smart light, speaker hybrid.
IKEA does sell three E14 LED smart globes for ranging from $14.99 to $29.99 – a natural addition to the product that was sadly missed.
Other than squishy buttons for the media controls on both speakers, that’s really it for the bad news since they sound amazing for the price you pay.
While the Table Lamp version is comparable in price to the Sonos One SL speaker, it’s still an alternative option for those that still want high-quality audio with an exciting aesthetic.
That being said, my recommendation has to go to the Bookshelf version.
At $149, it’s practically half the price of the ONE SL, and it sounds just as good if not better.
Used both calibrated and uncalibrated with the Sonos app, the speaker produces incredible clarity in the highs and mids, with strong bass response.
Listening to KC & The Sunshine Band’s Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong on both speakers simultaneously presented an expansive soundstage with absolutely no delay between them.
Individually though, the table lamp has a noticeably larger bass response, while the bookshelf keeps in cleaner in the highs and mids.
When it came to playing house music, both speakers handled Proxima by Lower Spectrum giving the full range of the retro synths and deep bass tones.
All in all, both speakers sound amazing, and for the price, it’s really a no brainer if you want to own a more affordable Sonos speaker.
While the alternative design aesthetic of the Table Lamp won’t be to everyone’s taste, the much cheaper and better-looking Bookshelf speaker is the correct choice.
Depending on how you use it, I would recommend getting the additional wall mounts and hooks, as you never know where you might want to place the speaker next.
Plus for just $29 more than the Table Lamp version, you could buy two SYMFIONISK speakers and rock stereo Bookshelves!
SYMFONISK (Bookshelf) $149
SYMFONISK (Table Lamp) $269