There’s a new, cheaper way to buy a Sonos wifi speaker and it’s from Ikea.
The Symfonisk bookshelf speaker is the second of two new products born of a partnership between the Swedish furniture manufacturer Ikea and the American premium multiroom audio specialists Sonos.
Together with the five-star Symfonisk table lamp, the new bookshelf speaker – the size of two hardback books – takes Ikea’s design knowledge and slaps Sonos’s best-in-class wifi speaker platform into it. The result is a new, lower-priced entry point into the Sonos ecosystem costing just £99 and undercutting the Sonos Play:1 by £50.
Where the table lamp is more obviously a piece of furniture, the bookshelf speaker is a more traditional audio product, at least on the surface. The plastic casing is available in white with a grey fabric speaker grille or black. A small Ikea-Sonos fabric label pokes out the front at the top, while an LED sits between three buttons taking care of pause/play and volume at the bottom.
It can be used as a regular wifi speaker, placed just about anywhere with access to a power socket and set up and operated using Sonos’s excellent system and apps.
That means it offers simple multiroom operation with other Sonos-compatible speakers, the ability to stream from any number of 121 different music services or Apple’s AirPlay 2, voice control via Google Home or Amazon Echo and a long history of software and feature updates.
You can even pair two of them for stereo separation, and they can be used with a Sonos TV speaker systems as part of a 5.1 surround sound setup.
But the speakers can also be either mounted on a rack or turned into a small shelf that can hold up to 3kg of your things using Ikea’s bracket. The back of the speaker has two holes for the mounting bracket, while the power and optional ethernet socket are recessed with cable guides for flush fitting.
There’s no rear bass port or vents, meaning as long as the front fabric panel of the speaker isn’t blocked you’ll get the full sound experience.
How it sounds
In reaching a cost of just £99 something had to be cut, and that something was sound quality. The Symfonisk speaker doesn’t sound quite as good as the £149 Sonos Play:1 or £199 Sonos One, or in fact the £150 Symfonisk table lamp.
But it still produces room-filling sound with all the clarity and punch you expect from Sonos, missing a bit of bass and richness you might get with more expensive speakers.
The sound is also fairly directional, meaning it suits being placed at one end of the room like a traditional speaker, rather than in the middle of it like many smart speakers.
There are rubber feet on the bottom and side, so you can place it in landscape or portrait orientation.
The fabric speaker grille can be entirely removed to expose the speaker cones and bass port.
The Ikea Symfonisk wifi bookshelf speaker costs £99 in either black or white.
For comparison, the Symfonisk table lamp speaker costs £150, the Sonos Play:1 speaker costs £149, the Sonos One costs £199, the Sonos Play:5 costs £499 and Sonos Beam costs £399.
Thanks to Ikea, it’s never been cheaper to buy into the Sonos wifi speaker ecosystem. While the Symfonisk wifi bookshelf speaker doesn’t quite reach the same audio highs of the Sonos Play:1, it’s also a third cheaper, blends in better with home furnishings and can be mounted in various different and interesting ways.
Turning a wall-mounted speaker into a floating shelf is a surprisingly good way of hiding a piece of technology in plain sight, removing clutter in the process. These will make excellent, cost-effective and easy-to-mount rear speakers for a Sonos 5.1 home cinema system with the Beam.
While there are definitely better-sounding £100 speakers available, you’ll struggle to find one that works as well thanks to the Sonos system. The Symfonisk wifi bookshelf speaker is therefore an excellent first step into the highly extensible Sonos ecosystem or an ideal second speaker for another room.
Pros: easy setup, flexible mounting, sounds good, Sonos control, wide support for music services, can be paired up, lower cost, optional ethernet.
Cons: doesn’t sound as good as a Play:1, no Bluetooth or line in, no built-in smart speaker functionality.