Hands-on: IKEA Sonos Symphony Painting List


October 16, 2021 – 08:00

Another speaker has been added to the range of WiFi speakers at IKEA in collaboration with SONOS. On IKEA’s website, it’s described as ‘painting frame with speaker’. A wall-mounted speaker to listen to and watch.

This picture frame speaker is one of the models from the Symfonsisk WiFi speaker range. IKEA also has several wireless speakers in the program, but the Symfonisk line was developed in collaboration with Sonos. These speakers can therefore be fully integrated with an existing Sonos system or set up as a complete Sonos multi-room system. Should you want to bypass the Sonos ecosystem, the speaker also supports Apple AirPlay 2.

Wall of sound

It may seem a bit strange to make a flat speaker, you would also expect the sound to be very thin. But it has its advantages, provided you actually place the speaker against the wall. The wall acts as an extension of the loudspeaker, acoustically speaking they become one whole.

Low frequencies are omnidirectional, bouncing off the wall and amplifying that way. Just push a loudspeaker closer and closer to the wall, you will notice that the bass becomes out of proportion and becomes too heavy. The Symfonisk makes good use of this, because it can reproduce a bit of that low, but on its own it has too little volume. So the wall helps.

An additional advantage is that no low frequencies are extinguished. Placing a speaker further and further away from a wall will cause some frequencies to bounce off the back of the wall and fade out due to a time delay. You can’t fix that, but if the speaker is already against the wall, you don’t have that problem. Thirdly, the higher frequencies will not bend and reverberate on the speaker cabinet, because that is simply not possible, there is a wall there after all. So you get a nice broad radiation in the highs.

The Downside

If a wall-mounted speaker has so many benefits, why don’t we make all speakers this way? Well, there are also some drawbacks. For example, you need some volume, I mean content, to reproduce the low frequencies. Since you have no depth, that makes it difficult. The drivers can also travel less far.

Beautiful

There is no right or wrong here. Maybe you think it’s really nice to hear that singer, even if you can’t indicate exactly where the voice comes from. This is completely different with the Sonos One and you can clearly hear the voice coming from the center of the two speakers. In function both speakers can do the same, the sound is just different.

The Symphony therefore sounds surprisingly good. Nice and deep lows, but not too boomy and if you place the speakers just as far apart as the distance between you and one of the speakers, you really get a ‘wall of sound’.

Now I have to add that I had two Symphonic painting speakers at my disposal. If you buy one, you have a mono speaker and a lot of the music you listen to is lost (you don’t get to hear all the stereo information). If you buy a second speaker, indicate that you want to use them in a stereo setup. If you don’t, you’re still just listening to a mono signal over two speakers.

Portrait

When you remove the front of the speaker, the speaker appears to hang upside down, but that’s the design. The treble tweeter is in the middle, above that is the mid driver and a bass port at the top right. It works best to hang the Symfonisk like this, in portrait mode. Don’t be fooled by the pictures and think “I’ll hang it horizontally, it looks nicer”. It really sounds less.

The power cord is long enough to neatly hide away and if you have too much ‘leftover’, you can conveniently roll it up in a compartment. There is also a feed-through power connection for a second Symfonisk at this location.

exchange list

The Symfonisk cabinet is available in two colours, black or white, with a matching front panel. Printed on this is an artwork by Jennifer Idrizi, a pattern inspired by cymatics, the science of visualizing sound vibrations. It gives the speaker a neutral appearance. You can also replace the front panel with another panel with a selection of photos and artwork, ranging in price from 14.99 to 29.99 euros. Printing your own photo or work of art and applying it around the frame is unfortunately not (yet) an option.

Art of kitsch

If I had to choose between the Sonos One or this Sonos Symfonisk, I would go for the former. Just the difference in finish, one plastic is not the other, and the Symfonisk really feels a bit more ‘budget’. In addition, the small ‘milk packets’ can be placed inconspicuously somewhere and sound tighter in the lows and softer in the highs as far as I’m concerned.

I also like a more honest sound, the Symfonisk sounds a bit bigger than what it is. What I do think they are fantastic for is to use them as surround speakers. Together with a Sonos soundbar, you can create a surround system. This is also possible with the Sonos One, but with the Symfonisk it not only sounds ‘immersive’, the speakers themselves in fact disappear into their environment.

Those fronts are therefore not only a nice gimmick or extra turnover, as the accessories are at Apple. You now also understand why this collaboration between Sonos and IKEA came about. The function of this loudspeaker line is really a lot broader than just good sound, as with the other loudspeaker brands. It also has to look good. In this case, not even as a speaker.

Specifications:

Model Name: Symphony E1913
Controls on speaker: play/pause, volume + and –
Netwerk: Apple Airplay 2, DLNA, Multiroom, Spotify Connect
Connection: Wi-Fi 4
Power cord length: 350cm
Dimensions: 57 x 41 x 6 cm
Price: €179

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