The Symfonisk lamp and bookshelf speakers actually sound good, too
The goal of the Symfonisk series is to put speakers in places (such as the bedroom) where you might not ordinarily want something that screams gadget. If you’ve got a partner who prefers to keep tech — even speakers — out of there, they might be more amenable to the idea of an Ikea-designed lamp that also happens to pull double duty as a great-sounding speaker.
As for the bookshelf speaker, well, it very much resembles a speaker. But right out of the gate, it becomes the most inexpensive Sonos speaker you can get. That’s a big deal in its own right. Does the newfound tag-team of Ikea and Sonos meet its potential? They’re off to a good start, with two debut products that are easily worth the money if they appeal to your design sense.
They also fully integrate with Ikea’s Tradfri smart home platform and Home Smart app. When Ikea’s smart blinds finally ship in October, you’ll be able to set up automated scenes that include the Symfonisk speakers. So in the morning, you can have the blinds go up, lights turn on, and music start playing automatically.
THE SYMFONISK TABLE LAMP SPEAKER
It’s a lamp with a Play:1 inside. That’s really the best way of summarizing the Sonos / Ikea table lamp speaker. The internal components aren’t an exact match for the Play:1 or Sonos One, but those are the speakers that Sonos modeled the lamp’s audio performance after, and you can definitely hear it. The Symfonisk lamp will be available in both white and black, but the latter is delayed a bit and won’t be ready at launch.
Seeing as there’s fabric around the entire thing, you might think that the lamp speaker outputs 360-degree sound a la Apple’s HomePod. Not so! Its drivers are front-firing, and Ikea and Sonos have tried to make sure you position it correctly by putting the music controls front and center. And when the power cord is plugged in, it runs out underneath the back of the lamp. If you place it in the wrong orientation, it’ll be pretty apparent.
I find the trio of physical buttons to be more foolproof than Sonos’ flat, touch-sensitive control areas on its own speakers. Neither of the Symfonisk products has a built-in microphone, so you’ll need a Google Home or Amazon Echo if you want to start a playlist with your voice hands-free. Thankfully, it’s easy to set an alarm in the Sonos app if you want the lamp to wake you up. Both speakers do include Apple’s AirPlay 2, so if you use an iPhone or iPad, you can play music using Siri and have even more options for music sources beyond the many services that Sonos already supports. Since the lamp will likely find its way to many bedrooms, the white LED indicator light above the play button can be disabled in the Sonos app if you find it distracting at night.
ON THE WAY IN IT
As I said earlier, the table lamp speaker sounds fairly close to a Sonos One or Play:1, though it’s not a direct match. For the best sound quality, you should use Sonos’ TruePlay feature, which will tune and calibrate the speaker for optimal performance by taking a room’s ambient characteristics into account. Pacing around with your phone as a speaker emits loud noises still feels a little strange, but the end result is worth any awkwardness. The table lamp can definitely fill a living room or bedroom with sound, and it’s capable of getting plenty loud.