What if your simple Ikea lamp was actually a Sonos wifi speaker that could play music from any number of music sources and link up with others around your house? That’s exactly what the Ikea Symfonisk table lamp is.
The new musical lamp, priced at £150, is one of a pair of new products in an interesting partnership between the Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea and multi-room audio specialists Sonos.
Setting it up
The outside design and operation of the Symfonisk lamp is pure Ikea: assembly required. In truth that just means screwing your (not included) standard E14 bulb in the top, fitting the glass shade and plugging in the (included) power cord.
From there it’s all Sonos, which means setting up the speaker is a simple five-minute affair using the Sonos app on your phone or tablet. Tap add a new speaker, wait for it to find the lamp, press two buttons to confirm it’s the right one and wait for it to update.
If you’ve never used a Sonos product before, adding your favourite music service is straightforward – including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music or one of the 118 others. Then it can be controlled from the Sonos app, with one search for all your music sources. It works brilliantly.
Alternatively you can use Apple’s AirPlay 2 or Spotify Connect straight from the appropriate app. The only big one missing is Chromecast support.
Note this is not a smart speaker and does not contain a microphone activated through voice commands.
But it’s also worth noting that Sonos has a long history of actively supporting its products through software updates and improvements, meaning that even older products aren’t left behind as the technology changes. Ikea’s Symfonisk system are Sonos on the inside, which means they will benefit from the long software and services support lifetime too.
How it looks
Apart from hole in the back for the ethernet cable and a set of three buttons controlling playback and volume in the saucer-like base, the lamp looks like a regular medium-sized table lamp. The main trunk is covered in a fabric mesh, while the glass bowl at the top looks like any other integrated lamp shade.
And that’s the point. More so than a speaker, the lamp simply blends in with the rest of your furniture. It is available in a grey and white, which matches similar colour schemes from Google, Apple, Amazon and many others. A bolder black and gold version is available, but you’d probably need a pretty strong colour scheme for that to fit well into your furnishings.
How it sounds
Using the Symfonisk lamp is straightforward too. You set the music going via your phone, or via voice by linking Sonos to Alexa or Google Assistant. The buttons in the base mean you can quickly adjust the volume or pause it. Multi-room audio is simple too if you’ve got other Sonos-compatible speakers. Just group select and hit play and the software will take care of the rest.
The lamp part is decidedly manual, with the knob on the side simply being an on-off switch not a dimmer. You can fit a smart bulb, however, if you want more control such as white or colour changing, the ability to dim the lamp or turn it on or off remotely.
The best bit is how it sounds. The speaker is surprisingly good for the money, with a nicely rounded sound that projects with a fairly wide, room-filling manner. It’s got punchy bass, clarity in the highs with nicely balanced treble and sounds good even at low volume levels. It can’t quite manage deep, thumping bass, but most will be very pleased. There’s even an equaliser you can tweak if you prefer a bit more low-end or treble, and you can crank up the volume to quite uncomfortable levels if you need it.
It sounds at least as good as Sonos’s great original Play:1, which costs £149 without a lamp attached. You can even pair them for proper stereo separation, use them as part of a home cinema set up with the Sonos Beam or similar, or use them with Sonos’s Sub for deep, powerful bass – although that might seem overkill given the Sub costs £699 on its own.
In fact the only thing I wish it had was a set of microphones for Alexa or Google Assistant, which would turn it into one of the best smart speakers able replace three devices in one. Some will see that as a blessing rather than a curse.
There’s a cute little fabric Ikea Sonos tag at the back of the lamp
There are four silicone feet under the lamp that prevent it vibrating the furniture it’s sat on
The Ikea Symfonisk table lamp speaker costs £150 in white and grey or black and gold.
For comparison, the Symfonisk wifi bookshelf speaker costs £99, the Sonos Play:1 speaker £149, the Sonos One £199, the Sonos Play:5 £499 and Sonos Beam £399.
On the surface Ikea and Sonos might sound like an odd mix, but the result of the pairing is something quite special.
Taking Ikea’s democratising design chops and adding Sonos’s expertise in audio has produced a good looking lamp that sounds way better than it has any right to. It doesn’t obviously look like a speaker or piece of technology.
While £150 for a speaker isn’t exactly cheap, for the calibre of wifi speaker built into the lamp it is a veritable bargain. Add to that the fact that it’s built on Sonos’s excellent multi-room control system, its wide support for basically every music service under the sun and its extensive history of longevity and updates. It means you can buy the Symfonisk in the knowledge it won’t be left behind when the next big thing comes along.
Of course, a lamp is a piece of furniture that has to fit in with your decor more than a simple speaker might, so its bulbous frosted glass and fabric styling might not be to everyone’s taste.
But if it is and you want add quality music and light to a room then the Symfonisk table lamp is genuinely delightful.
Pros: great sound, good looking, condenses two things into one, easy set up, Sonos control, wide support for music services, can be paired up, optional ethernet
Cons: design may not be to everyone’s taste, base is quite large, no smart speaker mics, no Bluetooth or line in, no bulb included, no dimmer switch