A springtime announcement has come to become a late summer reality: the Symfonisk table lamp speaker ($179) or Symfonisk wi-fi bookshelf speaker ($99) are both now available as intriguing additions to the Swedish furniture giant IKEA’s catalog of living accessories and as extensions of the wireless audio ecosystem of Sonos.
The Symfonisk wireless audio devices have already garnered design kudos as 2019 Red Dot Award Winners before their release. Now that they’re both out, we’ve had the opportunity to listen to both models in person to determine how they compare to similar Sonos wireless speakers, like the specifically the Sonos One and Play:1.
In person the Symfonisk table lamp speaker is as odd-quirky as it seemed in pre-release photos. We’d guess the 360-degree speaker+lamp design is likely split opinion into love or hate camps, with few falling anywhere between. But in person it’s charms are more evident, both as a lamp and as a speaker, especially if you’re some already invested in the Sonos ecosystem and might benefit from a secondary source of light.
The Symfonisk lamp’s diminutive stature and only moderately bright 7W E12 bulb makes the lamp best suited as a secondary or tertiary lighting option. As a lamp. we wished the shade was a bit larger, the max output brighter. In white, thoughts of Eve from WALL·E arise, while when draped in black, there’s (almost) a Tom Dixon-ish vibe of color, texture, and silhouette. But when placed in pairs bedside, the lamp’s unconventional proportions ease up and improve overall sound.
The bookshelf version of the Symfonisk is considerably less engaging as a design – purposely unassuming – a cloth-covered rectangle intended to be wall mounted and used as a shelf. But in person, the svelte and unassuming design seems best suited wedged between hardbound volumes. When used as a bookshelf speaker, the design pleasantly disappears from view, an inconspicuous and more affordable option delivering solid sound (especially at closer distances). And at this price, picking up two speakers for just $200 becomes a reasonable temptation to succumb to compared to $400 for a pair of (superior) Sonos One speakers.
If you’re wondering how they sound, we’re pleased to report both models generally produce very good sound (especially for their prices), whether connected as a Sonos device or used via Airplay 2. They don’t quite deliver the performance of the Sonos One or Play:1 (or Apple HomePod, for that matter), but both the lamp and bookshelf speaker produce output comparable to Bluetooth speakers similar in size, with clarity dropping off only when volumes eke past into the realm of loud.
As a complement to an existing system, the IKEA x Sonos collaboration offers an enticing invitation to expand any Sonos multi-room at a modest investment, while also opening the gateway for anyone looking to start one.