Ikea Sonos Symfonisk review | Wireless speaker lamp | Sound test | Setup inc smart lighting
Hi I’m Gidon from thetechnologyman.com.
The Ikea Symfonisk table lamp has a WiFi speaker built in that fully integrates into the multi-room
Sonos wireless HiFi system, Airplay 2 for direct WiFi streaming from Apple devices,
and it’s a lamp. It costs £150 or $179, so more pricey than
the bookshelf speaker that I reviewed recently that is part of the same Symfonisk range.
But it’s still competitively priced compared to other Sonos speakers.
I’ll be comparing it against the cheaper Ikea bookshelf speaker and the more expensive
Sonos One and Play:3, to determine if it’s worth the money.
Let’s take a look. Overview
Inside the box you get the glass lampshade, the base speaker unit, a quality braided power
cable, and an Ethernet cable if you want to go the wired route. There is also a brief
graphical guide that basically shows you how to plug it in, turn it on and suggests you
download the Sonos app. And there’s a separate written user guide that explains the physical
controls on the speaker. The lamp accepts an E14 or E12 in the US,
screw in bulb up to 7W. There are no smart lighting features built in, so you’ll need
a smart bulb if that’s something you would like. You could use some Philips Hue bulbs
which require a seperate hub, or some WiFi bulbs that don’t, like the Teckin ones I
reviewed a while back, but you’ll need to find some with the smaller E14 or E12 fitting
or an adapter. I think the best option if probably Ikea’s
own Zigbee-based Tradfri 600 lumen smart bulb for an extra £15 or $20. You’ll also need
the Tradfri Remote control for another £15 or $16 to control its brightness and colour
temperature. And if you want to control multiple bulbs using the Ikea smartphone app or use
a smart assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, you’ll also need Ikea’s hub that
plugs into your router – the Tradfri Gateway, for a further £25 or $35. For one lamp I
think the Remote control alone is adequate and is what I went for.
Screw in the bulb and attach the handmade glass lampshade. Screw in until it you get
a positive click – it’s quite stiff and would be quite difficult if you have smaller
hands. The speaker lamp is available in white or
black, and has a typically Ikea, timeless, homely design. The speaker is covered in an
elasticated woven fabric. The build quality is good, but doesn’t feel
as quite as premium as the Sonos One. The plastic base has some flex when you move it
around and apart from the lamp shade, and the aluminium knob, the whole speaker is made
of plastic. But the glass lampshade and fabric cover make it look elegant, nicely complementing
their cheaper bookshelf speaker if you have one and blending into its surroundings very
well. It’s a little bigger than I was expecting
at 216mm by 216mm and 401mm tall and weighs 3.25kg. There are four silicone rubber feet
under the base to limit any vibrations. The three physical buttons on top of the base
control the speaker without using the Sonos app, that I’ll come to shortly. There are
no touch controls like on the Sonos One. The buttons are also used for setup. And there’s
a status light. On the side of the speaker is the knob to
turn the light on and off and around the back is an Ethernet port for a wired connection.
I imagine most people will be using this wireless, but it could be useful if you have any problems
with setup. Initial setup
There’s no Bluetooth, so you’ll need to connect to the speaker via WiFi or wired Ethernet
using the Sonos app in the first instance, which will guide you through the setup process.
I covered setup in more detail in my previous review of Ikea’s Symfonisk bookshelf speaker.
The process is identical. I also compared the advantages and disadvantages of using
WiFi over Bluetooth – so please take a look at that video if you haven’t already. They’ll
be a link to it in the on-screen card and down below.
Download the app on iOS or Android and follow the steps to create an account or sign in
if you already have one. Tap on “Set up speakers” and make sure
your speaker is plugged in and the status LED is flashing a faint green. Tap on continue
and the app should find your speaker. Tap on “Set up this speaker”. For wireless
setup we’re configuring here you’ll then be guided through connecting the speaker to
your wireless network. After finding your wireless network, tap on next to join the
speaker. Then tap on Done. You’ll be prompted to press the Play and Vol+ buttons on the
speaker simultaneously with a resulting pleasant chime and the speaker is setup. Tap on Next
to choose a room name or type your own. Tap on continue to finish off setup.
If you have any issues using this method to setup the speaker you’ll be prompted to
use an “Alternative setup” which creates a temporary SONOS wireless network you can
connect to. And failing that you can complete the initial setup with the included Ethernet
cable plugging the speaker directly into your router.
To add the table lamp speaker to an existing system. Just open the Sonos app, tap More
| Add Speakers, then tap Continue a couple of times, again ensuring the status LED is
flashing green and the app will find the speaker. Tap on “Set up this speaker”, and again
press the Play and Vol+ buttons on the speaker to continue the setup. Confirm whether you
want the speaker in a new room or in a home theatre setup. In this case we’re setting
it up as a seperate speaker. If you’re using iOS, you can fine tune your
speaker with Sonos’s Trueplay system, which tunes it based on its position in the room
using the phone’s microphone to measure how sound reflects around the room. Tap on
continue and you’ll be prompted to remove any case and walk around the room waving your
phone around whilst the speaker emits a tone. In most cases any adjustment is very subtle,
so I wouldn’t worry too much if you don’t have an iPhone to configure this feature.
They’ve promised the ability to do this on Android for a long time, but the huge variations
in microphones on Android devices appears to have made it very complex.
Tap on “Add a music service” to choose from a huge range of supported services including
Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. If you don’t want to pay for a streaming
service and already have a music library on your computer or a NAS, you can stream this
directly through Sonos. It’s easier to configure from a PC or Mac. Download the Sonos app and
choose Manage | Music Library Settings. You can then select your music library folder
on your hard drive or NAS. You’ll need the computer or NAS to always be on, and ideally
connected over a wired ethernet connection for the best reliability.
Like the bookshelf speaker, there’s no built in microphone for voice commands but it’ll
work with Amazon Alexa or Google Home if you have one of those. Go to More | Voice Services
and add your preferred service. Here I’m adding Amazon Alexa, which will open the Alexa
app and prompt you to enable the Sonos skill. You’ll need to sign in with the Sonos account
you created or used earlier and give Alexa permission to control your Sonos. Tap done,
and then let Alexa discover your Sonos devices. If you’re not using Amazon Music, I’d
recommend setting your default Music service in the Alexa app under Settings | Music | Default
Services. Now you can say “Alexa, play “Liability”
by Tape Machines in the Study”. If you want Siri control, you can add the
speaker via the Apple Home app. Tap on add accessory, “I don’t have a code or cannot
scan”, then tap on the Ikea speaker. Then you can activate Siri and say “Play “Out
of here” by Sugar Blizz in the Study”. With no Bluetooth support if you want sound
from a YouTube video say, to come through the speaker you’ll have to find a third
party way of doing this like SonosTube. But this is something that is incredibly simple
with Bluetooth. If you’re using Apple devices this speaker
does support Airplay 2 which means you can stream audio directly over WiFi from most
apps, but as with the bookshelf speaker, Android users are left wanting. If you’re using a standard light bulb the
knob on the side of the speaker just turns the lamp on and off. This doesn’t control
the speaker which will remain in standby mode when you’re not playing music, which I measured
consumes around 2.5W. You can’t turn the speaker off completely off without unplugging
it. If you’re using the setup I have here, with
the Tradfiri smart bulb and remote control, first turn on the lamp. The bulb will come
on at its default 100% brightness and 2700K colour temperature.
You’ll then need to remove the battery cover on the remote and insert the supplied CR2032
Lithium battery. If you bought the bulb and remote separately they won’t be paired,
so after inserting the battery press the pairing button for at least 10 seconds. The red LED
on the front of the remote will light up and the light bulb will dim and flash to indicate
pairing is successful. You can now leave the lamp on and control
it with the remote, which has a magnetic base for permanent installation. The power button
in the middle turns the light on and off, the left and right buttons change the colour
temperature from the default 2700K warm white to an even warmer 2200K warm glow or a cooler
4000K cool white. And the brightness buttons will dim the light up and down either continuously
if you hold the buttons down or in steps with short presses.
You can press and hold the power button for 3 seconds to return the bulb to its defaults.
The bulb has a colour rendering index or CRI of greater than 90 for more accurate colours
and through the glass lampshade the light really does have a very pleasing quality to
it, something that can’t always be said of LED lighting.
The Sonos app We’ve already used the Sonos app to setup
the speaker, but its main purpose is a fully fledged music player and controller. You can
download the app on iOS, Android, PC and Mac. I covered the Sonos app in the bookshelf speaker
review, but I’ll discuss it again here for completeness. You can always skip to the next
section using the timestamps below. If you have multiple music services it can
search across all of them at once. You can search by artist, song or album. You’ll
need to ensure you tap the appropriate search category if no results come up.
You can also browse radio stations. Enter your location and you’ll see your local
radio stations, but you can listen to almost any international station there is.
Another feature I use a lot is playing back podcasts. The easiest method is to search
under Podcasts and Shows, and tap on Recent episodes.
For quick access in the future to your favourites, tap on the three dots to “Add to My Sonos”
for any content. This will then be available from the “My Sonos” tab along the bottom
of the app. All your settings and favourites are accessible
through any connected app on that Sonos network. So I can go across to my iPhone and continue
control from there. You can of course play, pause, adjust volume
and skip tracks through the app. Or you can use the speaker’s controls. A single press
of the play button starts and stops your music, a double press skips forward a track and a
triple press skips back. If you have other Sonos speakers, holding down the Play button
will add music playing in another room to this speaker, automatically creating a group.
Any tracks you play are added to a queue. When you choose to play more music you either
replace the current queue or add music to the end of the queue, by tapping on the three
dots. You can view your current queue by tapping the top right Show Queue icon from the room
view on a smartphone. On a tablet you can choose to Show Queue with the current track
still displaying. You can also save the queue as a Sonos playlist.
Since this speaker might be used on your bedside table, there’s an alarm feature that might
come in handy. Tap More | Alarms and choose what you want to wake up to, from the Sonos
Chime to a radio station to a track or playlist of your choice.
If you tap Settings under More, and choose Room Settings, you can change the room name,
configure Trueplay if you’re on iOS, and adjust EQ settings. This is fairly basic,
but enough for most of us. There’s also a Loudness setting. I’ll come back to EQ
settings when I talk about sound quality. If you have a second Ikea table lamp speaker
you can create a stereo pair here too. Any two identical speakers from the Sonos range
can be paired together apart from their Sub, Playbar and Playbase. You can also use two
of these speakers as rear speakers for a wireless home theatre system, if your TV’s connected
to a Sonos soundbar namely the Playbar or Playbase. Go to Room Settings for the soundbar
to configure. If you already have other Sonos products or
purchase more in the future, the true wonder of a multi-room system like this comes into
play. Sonos supports up to 30 speakers. Under Rooms, you can group speakers together. You
can individually select what speakers you want to group together, or you can tap Everywhere
to play your music through all the speakers at the same time. You can individually control
the volume or mute a grouped speaker by tapping on the volume control. All the speakers play
in perfect sync. If you do have the Playbar or Playbase for
your TV, you can group it with the Ikea speaker and continue listening to Breakfast news for
example as you get ready for work. You could also group the Ikea speaker, which
supports Airplay 2 with an older Sonos speaker that doesn’t support Airplay like say the
Play:3. There’s a setting in Settings | AirPlay to keep non-AirPlay speakers grouped with
speakers that are playing AirPlay. You could even mute the Ikea speaker to only stream
to the non-AirPlay speaker. Tap the Airplay icon when playing back any media from you
Apple phone, tablet or Mac to stream audio to the Ikea speaker and speakers it’s grouped
with. Sound quality & performance
The speaker is based around the Sonos One and older Play:1 and sounds very similar.
Which is to say it sounds very good. Vocals are excellent but it also handles bass well
for its size. There is some distortion at higher volumes on bassy tracks particularly.
But it’s a loud speaker which could easily fill a medium sized room, so you’ll mostly
be listening to it below its full volume, well within its limits.
The Ikea bookshelf speaker I reviewed previously sounded good, this sounds even better. It
has a richer sound and doesn’t suffer from the vibrations I got from the less expensive
speaker with some more bass heavy tracks. But then it is £50 or $80 more expensive
– the bookshelf speaker is still excellent value for money.
I also compared it to the Sonos One and the Sonos Play:3. You can listen to a sound comparison
shortly. The Sonos One costs £199 or $199 and sounds very similar, just perhaps slightly
crisper to my ear. It also has built in Amazon Alexa and Google Home support. The now discontinued
stereo Play:3 does sound noticeably better, but overall I very much doubt you’d be disappointed
with the sound from this speaker. Creating a stereo pair with another identical speaker
would sound even better. You can adjust EQ settings but I found the
default settings with Loudness on sounded well balanced for most of the music I listened
to. Although it looks like a 360 degree speaker,
the sound is quite directional so you’ll need to have the speakers’ controls facing
you. Setup on WiFi, as long as the speaker was
in range of my router, I experienced no issues with dropouts. Since you’re only controlling
the speaker from your phone or tablet, even if that loses signal to your WiFi, the music
will keep playing. I’ve recorded the following sound test with
binaural microphones that capture stereo sound, to try and provide the closest representation
of what I’m hearing. Please listen with headphones for the best experience. To hear
a sound test with another music track, take a look at my bookshelf speaker review. Use
the timestamps below to skip ahead to the conclusions if you like.
Conclusions The Ikea Smyfonisk table lamp speaker sounds
very good and its space saving design wouldn’t look out of place in most homes. It fully
integrates into the Sonos WiFi system with arguably one of the best music controller
apps available and an easy upgrade path to multi-room audio. The price is very tempting,
especially when you consider it’s also a stylish lamp. It’d make a very nice addition
to an existing Sonos system too. It could also be an alternative to Apple’s
HomePod at close to half the price, but does lack integrated Siri support. It looks pretty
similar too, just with a lampshade on top. It’s disappointing it has no smart features
built in for controlling music or the lamp. It would have at least made sense to enable
it to act as a hub for Ikea’s own smart light bulbs. As it is, to make it a completely
smart speaker lamp, assuming you had nothing already, you’d need to spend at least £25
or $30 on something like an Echo Dot in one of Amazon’s frequent sales, then a further
£40 or $50 on an Ikea Tradfri bulb and gateway. And like the bookshelf speaker there’s no
Bluetooth. If you’re on Android you can’t use Airplay, so you’re forced to use the
Sonos app in most cases which can be quite limiting.
If you’re not interested in the lamp, the Symfonisk bookshelf speaker still sounds very
good and is significantly cheaper. It also has some real space saving installation options.
And the Sonos One for £50 or only $20 more sounds a fraction better to me and already
has Amazon Alexa and Google Home built in. And you can still get the Sonos Play:1 for
£10 or $40 less on Amazon at the moment which will sound very similar but doesn’t have
AirPlay 2 support. The Ikea Symfonisk table lamp is still one
of the best sounding speakers I’ve listened to at this price. Together with full Sonos
integration, AirPlay 2 support and doubling up as a table lamp I’d have no hesitation
recommending it. I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do
you think of the design? How do you think it sounds compared to the Symfonisk Bookshelf
speaker and the Sonos One? Let me know down below. Don’t forget to check out my review
of the Ikea Bookshelf speaker if you haven’t already.
And as always, if you have any questions, please ask – I read every comment and will
do my best to respond. I do hope you found this video useful. Please
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