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Review: This Ikea Painting Is Secretly a Speaker | Tech

VideoIkea’s new Symfonisk looks like a painting on the wall, but is also secretly a smart speaker. Looks nice, but how does it sound? We checked it out with the editors of Tweakers.


Tech editors/Tweakers


Latest update:
08:03




The full version of this review can be found on Tweakers.

Ten years ago, no one could have imagined that Ikea would once again bring speakers to the market. Nevertheless, the furniture chain now has a nice range, including a number of smart speakers in the Symfonisk line.

A third variant of this has just appeared on the market: the ‘Symphonic picture frame with WiFi speaker’. Quite a mouthful, which in any case makes clear what the difference is with the existing ‘Symfonisk table lamp with WiFi speaker’ and the ‘Symfonisk WiFi bookshelf speaker’.

Like the other models, the new picture frame was designed in collaboration with Sonos and fits seamlessly into the Sonos ecosystem. And like its two predecessors, it is available in white and black. The picture frame costs 179 euros, just as much as the table lamp. Both are therefore slightly cheaper than the One, the entry-level model from Sonos. However, the picture frame is a lot more expensive than the entry-level model from Ikea itself: the bookshelf speaker. It costs just under 100 euros.

Symphony picture frame. © Ikea

Thin frame on the wall

What is striking about the picture frame is that it is so flat. Ikea has been smart enough to put the electronics in a smaller part of the housing. You see that thin frame, which is no thicker than the frame of the average photo, with a few centimeters of space behind the frame.

The part you see has very thin plastic edges within which a canvas with an image is stretched. Just like with the bookshelf speaker, that panel can be replaced. Initially, the speaker is available with white or black cloth, but from September 1, Ikea will supply three other panels.

It is already clear that more designs are coming. Anyone looking for something will find at least twelve designs that will become available in the coming months. The first three panels cost 15 euros, the later models all cost 30 euros, a somewhat remarkable price difference.


Thoughtful housing

Sonos is responsible for the inside of the picture frame, but Ikea’s designers have thought carefully about the outside. This is especially apparent when we look at the rear. In the edges you will find six oval recesses through which you can press the printed panel out of the housing. More striking is the cutout at the bottom of the speaker. In that recess you will find the connections for cable internet and the power cord.

Two rubber caps in the color of the speakers are also included. The caps serve as insulation, so that the speaker does not transmit vibrations to the floor. Very handy: in the back of the speaker there are two extra recesses in which you can park the caps when you are not using them, so that they do not get lost. On the back you will also find four fabric pads, so that vibrations are not transmitted to the wall when you have hung the speaker.

All Ikea and Sonos Symfonisk speakers.
All Ikea and Sonos Symfonisk speakers. © Tweakers

Service

The panel with the image covers the entire front, which means that there is no room for buttons on the front. Fortunately, he does have the picture frame. On the left-hand side of the thin part of the housing, there are three: two buttons to adjust the volume and a button to pause and resume the music. Simple and effective.

Of course, the Symfonisk is mainly intended to be operated with your telephone, but it is nice that the picture frame has buttons. Even if you are not the one controlling the phone that selects the music, you can control the volume and pause the music.

You do need the Sonos app to start the speaker. It is available for Android and iOS. So you also need a mobile device to control the speaker. It uses your WiFi network. There is no physical audio input and you can’t stream music via bluetooth either.

How does it sound?

The big question is, of course, what that sounds like. The short answer: clear. Not to mention: how shrill. The bass port delivers a firmer bass than you would expect from such a flat speaker. However, the bass does not extend very far into the low end, but the tones you hear are nice and compact, nice and tight.

What is much more striking is that the high sound predominates. It is prominent in the sound of the picture frame, which makes it sound somewhat shrill. There is too much emphasis on high-pitched voices, on solo electric guitars, on tambourines, and instruments of similar frequencies. Partly because the bass does not extend too deep, the result is that the picture frame sounds a bit flat, lifeless or boring.

Conclusion

The idea that Sonos and Ikea have with the picture frame is fine: a flat speaker for the wall, which looks like a painting, where you can choose the image that is visible.

The Picture Frame unfortunately sounds a bit shrill and also lacks some bass, so that the whole sounds a bit flat and boring. The speaker fits seamlessly into the Sonos ecosystem and works especially well in stereo or as part of a home cinema system. However, some extra functionalities such as a fixed audio input, Bluetooth and a microphone would not have gone amiss.


Review: This Ikea Painting Is Secretly a Speaker | Tech
Source link Review: This Ikea Painting Is Secretly a Speaker | Tech

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