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Sonos X Ikea Symfonisk Frame Speaker Review: Speaker wall art

An idea that's better than its execution

The Pros

  • Sonos connectivity
  • Sounds great
  • Cool concept

The Cons

  • Cable dangling from it at all times
  • Locked to default artwork
  • Odd sizing

When I first heard whispers that Ikea and Sonos’ next collaboration would be a piece of wall art, I was ecstatic. I had grand ideas in my head, and the concept seemed poised to blend home decor with functional tech in a way that struck a chord with me.

What we got instead feels like a prototype.

The Symfonisk Picture Frame is a 100 percent functional internet-connected speaker, and a great one. But its thick profile, dangling cable and limited selection of art make it a tough sell, especially since it’s the same price as the more discrete and great-sounding Sonos One smart speaker.

The concept

I love the idea of blending home decor with smart devices. The Amazon Echo Dot with Clock is one of my favourite gadgets ever, and the MagSafe PopSocket Wallet might be a close second.

I was expecting this Sonos X Ikea collaboration to feel similar, but the large black box, unfortunately, looks out of place in my home, and most people will likely hold the same opinion.

For some reason, Ikea decided that it wants control over the artwork that goes over the frame, so right now, it only comes in black or white with a subtle grey honeycomb design that aims to mimic the look of sound waves. The design is fine, but its minimal black nothingness doesn’t match my home’s decor, so it looks out of place just about everywhere.

I’m hoping to find a way to customize the Sonos X Ikea Symfonisk more to my liking. I wish Ikea and Sonos would have just made it more accessible from the beginning for people to put their art in front of the speaker. Ikea will likely sell other front art selections, but I’m not holding my breath for anything exemplary.

The device comes with a long white cable regardless of what colour speaker you get, and there are several smart routing grooves and a velcro strap to minimize the unsightly cord mess. Regardless of your cable management skills, you’ll still have a long cable running down from the speaker, likely crossing the floor to the nearest outlet.

“Sonos has done an admirable job tweaking the EQ and designing the speaker’s housing, and it sounds great.”

I got lucky and placed the art/speaker in a corner of my house that already had a little shelf blocking the floor, making the wire easier to hide, but it’s still not as stealthy as just plopping a Sonos one down on a shelf or a table in the corner of the room.

The execution

Looking at the speaker straight on, it looks fine, but its 2.3-inch depth sticks out a little more than I’d have liked. I assume this is to help with the acoustics and sound design, but it’s noticeably not a piece of normal art hanging on your wall.

There are three small buttons just under the left edge of the speaker, including one for play/pause, and the others are volume up and down. Sonos did a great job of making each button feel different, ensuring that you always know which one you’re pressing even if you can’t see it.

In terms of sound, the frame has a single woofer and a single tweeter. Sonos has done an admirable job tweaking the EQ and designing the speaker’s housing, and it sounds great.

That’s the one redeemable quality here. If you like the way it looks, and you have a cool space to hang or place it, at least you don’t need to worry about sound quality.

The Symfonisk Frame’s sound quality sits somewhere between the Ikea x Sonos bookshelf speaker and the Sonos One, which is a roundabout way of saying that it sounds great. Having said that, when you pull off the large front artwork to reveal the two small speakers underneath, it does feel a little underwhelming, regardless of how great it sounds.

“My house is full of smart speakers at this point, and I rarely even think about plugging in or using Bluetooth unless I’m away from home.”

The range is well balanced and offers that crisp Sonos sound that the company has built its name on. It’s no Sonos Move, of course, but it lives up to its $250 price tag.

Since it’s also a Sonos speaker, it features all the usual Sonos perks, including the following:

  • AirPlay 2
  • Sonos multi-room audio
  • Sonos Radio access
  • Spotify Connect
  • Group two frames to play in stereo
  • Group two frames with a Sonos soundbar for surround sound
  • Combines with Ikea FLOALT light panel to match lighting with music
  • TruePlay Sonos tuning (iOS only)

It would have been nice to have some kind of audio-in jack or Bluetooth, but I didn’t expect it since that’s not Sonos’ usual style. My house is full of smart speakers at this point, and I rarely even think about plugging in or using Bluetooth unless I’m away from home.

What did I expect?

Looking forward, I’m not sure if the Symfonisk is going to live on my wall forever. It’s a fine speaker, but the Sonos One is a great speaker and blends into my home way better while costing the same and taking up less space.

You can get a One SL for even less if you don’t want Google Assistant/Alexa support, something I should mention that the Frame doesn’t have either, like Ikea’s other Sonos speakers. On the plus side, this means there are no microphones on the frame.

Still, even with these shortcomings, it’s not a bad speaker and delivers all of the perks of having a Sonos speaker in a fun wall-mounted package. Plus, I’m sure with a little ingenuity, you could figure out a way to customize the front to fit in better with the look of your home.

I’d still likely recommend buying a Sonos One, A Sonos Move or a Sonos X Ikea Bookshelf speaker if you don’t already have one of Sonos’ smart speakers, but if you’re already jacked-in to the company’s ecosystem and you like the look of the Symfonisk Picture Frame, it’s a decent option.

You can buy the Symfonisk Picture Frame speaker on Ikea’s website for $249.

"Even with these shortcomings, it’s not a bad speaker and delivers all of the perks of having a Sonos speaker in a fun wall-mounted package."

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