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Sonos IKEA Symfonisk Wi-Fi speakers review and setup guide

Aug 14, 2019 · 9:30 AM
Tyler Hayes
00:00/00:00
This audio was generated using Microsoft’s artificial intelligence.
Photo credit: Tyler Hayes
Speakers playing music throughout a home is a given for most people, so it makes sense that IKEA, one of the largest home goods stores in the world, might want its own line of speakers. Instead of forging this technological path itself, however, IKEA decided to partner with Wi-Fi speaker maker Sonos for the Symfonisk line.
Symfonisk lamp speaker in white Photo: Tyler Hayes
If IKEA is selling speakers, you might be wondering: Do l have to construct them myself? Thankfully, no. (The hardest part of setup is screwing the light bulb into the speaker that’s also a lamp.)

Wi-Fi speakers versus Bluetooth speakers

The partnership with IKEA isn’t about funky shaped speakers, it answers the bigger question of whether Sonos would ever reduce the premium to get into its Wi-Fi streaming speaker ecosystem. At $99, the bookshelf speaker is the most compelling wireless speaker. It marries a robust Sonos app experience with wireless features that Bluetooth alone can’t touch.
(The lamp is pretty neat too, but at $179 ultimately very comparable to an existing Play One [or Play:1, two different speakers] already available from Sonos.)
Symfonisk bookshelf speaker Photo: Tyler Hayes
Typically, Wi-Fi speakers are more advanced and expensive than Bluetooth speakers. The $99 Symfonisk speaker, however, might be just what you’re looking for.
Bluetooth speakers connect directly to a device like your phone, so they play whatever is on your phone. Bluetooth speakers are good portable options to take to the pool or beach, but their downsides really stick out in the home.
Because Bluetooth is a direct connection, whatever sound is trying to play on your phone can play from the speaker as well. Here are some examples of when the music you’re listening to could be interrupted:
  • When you get a phone call
  • When auto-play videos pop up
  • Trying to take a picture/video
  • When you leave the room (or move too far away from the speaker)
Wi-Fi speakers use your home internet to pull in the music they stream, and so they’re not directly connected to your phone. Your phone is the controller, but it’s not directly sending the sound to the speaker, so you can continue to use it and let the music play.
Wi-Fi speakers aren’t typically portable and right for every speaker situation, but for audio around your home, they’re hard to beat. Multi-room audio is a huge benefit of Wi-Fi speakers, meaning you can have them sync up and play the same song in different rooms, or each playing different songs. They also tend to be more expensive—one reason the $99 IKEA bookshelf speaker is so intriguing.

How good do the IKEA speakers sound?

The real question around speakers is how they sound.
I've tested dozens of speakers and headphones over the years for publications like Digital Trends and was eager to hear the Symfonisk speakers in person. Sonos sent me a review unit of one of each to test.
While there are two Symfonisk speakers, the most interesting one is the bookshelf speaker. The lamp looks unique, but it’s mostly a Play:1 with a light on top. It’s a known quantity and even looks vaguely like a Play:1.
The new Symfonisk bookshelf speaker, however, is something different that doesn’t really have an equivalent—in price, sound, or design—from Sonos.
On first listen, and in isolation, the bookshelf Symfonik sounds pretty great. It produces enough low-end tones to be as convincing as a premium speaker. It also captures enough sparkle of high-end models to feel good about its purchase.
I listened to a bunch of songs to evaluate sound performance and feel comfortable saying without caveat that it sounds good. Not mind-blowing, but good.
(The best results will come after using the Sonos app to tune the speaker to its room and playing music between 15% and 50%—a volume plenty loud for most occasions.)
On the flip side, “Down Low” by Lyrah, a bass heavy pop jam, is a song that exposes where the speaker lacks. There’s less life to the sound than compared to Apple’s HomePod at the same volume. The bookshelf speaker can produce a punch, but it is less natural, and more forced than other speakers, including other Sonos speakers.
The attractiveness of the $99 speaker is that it exceeds price-point expectations. Any prospective buyers should be aware that it does have real sound limitations though—especially unpaired, as a single unit.
Now, two bookshelf speakers paired in stereo should be satisfactory for any room, however large, in your house.

Setting up Sonos Symfonisk speakers

If you decide to jump into Wi-Fi speakers with the Sonos/IKEA Symfonisk set, setting them up only requires a few steps.
You can use the Sonos app, available on iOS or Android to get started.
Inside the app, head to the settings and tap "Add Speaker." Once you plug in the speaker, you’ll see a blinking light, and you can press the pause/play and skip buttons at the same time to connect it.
The app will walk you through a few final steps around naming it and placement in your home. Finally, you’ll need to log in to Spotify Premium, Apple Music, or one of the dozens of supported services in the Sonos app.
The Symfonisk speakers work the exact same as any other Sonos speakers. The added benefit is that they’ll also show up in the IKEA home app for its smart home products.
These new Symfonisk speakers really shine in two ways.
First, they are a price-friendly intro to Wi-Fi speakers and getting rid of some of Bluetooth's annoyances. Second, they have a full ecosystem of other speakers that can be added in tandem to meet other audio needs down-the-road—like speakers for your TV.

Tyler Hayes is an independent creator and not a representative of Bing or Microsoft.

Written byTyler HayesTyler Hayes
Tyler Hayes is a technology writer based in California. He’s easily sucked into a debate about which streaming music service is currently the best. He has contributed extensively to Fast Company, as well as Buzzfeed, Billboard, The Week, Digital Trends, and many more.
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