Symfonisk Picture Frame: A star speaker that saves space

Collaborative wifi speaker from Ikea and Sonos is discreet and has high sound quality

Symfonisk Picture Frame

Product name: Ikea Symfonisk Picture Frame

Price: €179.0

Where to buy: www.ikea.com

Website: www.ikea.com

Thu, Jul 29, 2021, 05:33

   

“I thought it was a picture frame?” Ikea’s latest product caused some confusion in my house when unpacked and set up. The Symfonisk Picture Frame is a wireless speaker tucked inside some artwork that you can hang on your wall.

But despite the name, it isn’t a frame, nor can you put a picture inside it. It has its own design on the fabric covering the speaker, and apparently these will be swappable, but that’s the extent of the customisation.

It’s a minor issue, though. Ikea’s collaboration with Sonos has yielded good results. A couple of years ago, Ikea launched the bookshelf speaker and a lamp with an integrated wireless speaker, both of which integrated seamlessly with your living room. Less obvious technology is, for some people, the way to go.

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Now Ikea and Sonos have brought the picture frame as a third option. It’s an excellent solution if you are short of space or want your tech to blend in.

The Picture Frame itself has minimal fuss. There is a single cable in the box – the power cord – plus the fixings to attach it to the wall. Three buttons are all you get to control play and pause; the rest of the controls come through the Sonos S2 app. It uses wifi rather than Bluetooth to connect to your device and services, and there is an ethernet connection for those with spotty home wifi. A small status light on the front of the device is subtle, to the point where, during the set-up, I found it difficult to locate.

The set-up itself is relatively painless. The speaker uses NFC, so once you have the app up and running, you simply hold your phone around the area of the status light and everything connects.

Because it’s a Sonos speaker, it can fit in with any other Sonos-branded speakers you may have in your home, slotting into your room set-up or groups with a few taps on your phone screen.

It is also compatible with the major streaming music services, from Apple Music and Spotify to Deezer and Tidal, along with various podcast apps, Audible and radio apps.

You can also add it into your Google- or Amazon-controlled smart home by linking Sonos to your account, which allows you to play or control the music on the speaker with your chosen digital assistant.

This speaker is designed to be hung on the wall, but Ikea gives you options on how you want to hang it, in portrait or landscape mode. That extends to the power cord, too, and you can tuck excess cord in the back and secure it with a Velcro strap.

Choose where you hang it carefully. The Picture Frame needs mains power, and the only thing you can’t easily hide is the white power cord. How much of a hassle that will be depends on your own personal tastes and your decor choice. The cord itself is reasonably long so with a bit of creative cabling you can make it work to fit most rooms.

All that aside, the most important thing is how it sounds. The good news here is that Sonos and Ikea have done a good job on that front, too. This sounds like a Sonos speaker, performing well with everything from podcasts to high-volume music. If you are a heavy bass fan, this may not be the best choice, given that it sits on the wall; inevitably there may be some vibration that could disturb the neighbours.

In terms of volume, the Picture Frame certainly lives up to its promise of room-filling sound, assuming your room is of average Irish home size. You can impose a volume limit through the app if you need to, but on the sound quality front, there is no distortion in sound even at top volume.

The good

If you prefer your tech more subtle, the Symfonisk Picture Frame fits the bill.

Sound quality is great, as you would expect from a Sonos device, and that it fits into the existing Sonos set-up as just another speaker makes it a nice add-on for those who have thrown in their lot with Sonos.

The not-so-good

Not a fan of the artwork? There will be options to swap it, but none that include customising your own artwork to fit inside it.

The power cord isn’t easily hidden, either, unless you have some DIY skills and are handy with running cable.

The rest

Two speakers can be paired for stereo sound, and if you use iOS, you can use TruePlay to tune the speakers according to the acoustics of your room. It takes about three minutes to do, and is worth the effort.

Alternative prints are available from Ikea, although the current range is limited.

The verdict

A space-saving star for music lovers.

ikea.com