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Ikea Symfonisk Bookshelf Review: Bringing Multi-room to the masses.

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It’s very rare for a device to disrupt a market these days. From televisions to phones and computers and cell phones, many lines of consumer electronics are most definitely in mature markets. Nonetheless, Sweedish home retailer Ikea did just that when they partnered with multi-room audio experts Sonos for the Symfonisk line of Multi-room consumer speakers. Let’s take a look at some of those speakers, the Symfonisk Bookshelf speakers to be exact.

Champagne Audio on a Beer Budget

I usually keep the price point toward the end of the review, but in this case, the price is paramount. While there are lower end multi-room systems, more premium systems, such as those offered by Sonos, Bose, Yamaha, Denon, and Sony just to name a few, typically start at a minimum of of $150. Ikea and Sonos undercut that by offering the Symfonisk Bookshelf at just $99.

You would expect a small, cut rate speaker for that price right? You would be wrong. First off, the Symfonisk range includes the latest generation Sonos hardware. While it does not have a built-in virtual assistant like the Sonos One or Beam soundbar, it can be controlled with all three major voice assistants in Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant and is also integrated with all three offering’s multi-room support include Apple’s HomeKit based Airplay 2.

Compared to the Sonos Play 1, the Symfonisk Bookshelf is actually considerably taller at 12” (310mm) with a 4” width (100mm) and a depth of 6” (150mm). This compares to 6.36” x 4.69” x 4.69” ( 161 x 120 x 120 MM) This is due to the Ikea requirement that it also act as a shelf if used horizontally. This puts it much closer in size to the now discontinued Play 3. The ports are exactly what you would expect for a Sonos: a power port and a ethernet jack. Both cables are included in box. Controls are on the front bottom and are of the simple Volume minus, Play/Pause and volume plus variety. Everything is well made and premium feeling.

While with the size of the speaker you may be expecting a pair of main woofers, however that is not the case. The speaker arrangement is similar to the Sonos One and Play One with a single woofer and a tweeter. With the Symfonisk, it’s in a more traditional forward firing configuration. The enclosure is also passively ported at the top of speaker to make use of the extra real estate.

Through the Sonos app and tie-ins through various music services, the Symfonisk Bookshelf works with Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, and practically everything else you can think of. If you’re looking for bluetooth, this speaker and all currently shipping Sonos speakers cannot be used as a bluetooth speaker.

Sound

I found the sound quality to be excellent throughout the volume range for a variety of music types, though there may have to be some fine tuning based on your musical preferences. Fortunately, Sonos offers a 3-band EQ in app. The ported enclosure overs a little bit more volume and bass over the Play 1 and Sonos One.

As a stereo pair at a 5 to 6ft elevation is where the Symfonisk bookshelf really shines. The pair was more than loud enough to fill a larger living room at only 30% volume. Turning it up full blast and you better hope you don’t live in an apartment, condo, or townhouse. The pairing also adds a lot of extra definition that just isn’t there in mono. The Symfonisk would be ideal as a rear pair combined with a Beam, Playbar, or Playbase in a 5.0 or 5.1 setup is if a sub is added to the mix. There’s really nothing at this price point that can compare.

Flexibility and Accessories

What really sets the Symfonisk Bookshelf apart, beyond price, is its built in flexibility. Ikea offers a pair of mounts. First, is a $9.99 hook system for mounting the speaker on kitchen racks. The second is a $20 wall mount (Also in Black) kit. This kit can be mounted either vertically or horizontally using the speaker’s recessed accessory rails. When mounted horizontally, the kit also includes a protective layer to use it as a shelf.

There’s a catch to this flexibility, however. As of time of publishing, the only company to offer accessories was Ikea itself. While there is a vibrant third party mount and stand ecosystem to just about every Sonos model out there, none of that exists in this case. That said, engineering a solution for these speakers would not be difficult and it would not surprise me if there were accessories released for both the Symfonisk Bookshelf and Table Lamp in the near future.

Pricing and Availability

The Ikea Symfonisk is currently only available from ikea.com and Ikea retail stores for $99.99. It comes in Black and White. No announcement for additional retail avenues has been made at this time. However, Ikea does have an Amazon store and Sonos is available at a variety of retailers. If this were to change, this article will be updated.

Pros

  • Excellent sound.
  • Unbeatable price.
  • Dedicated mounting system.
  • Can double as shelf.
  • Works with nearly every music service
  • Multi-room support with AirPlay 2, Google, and Amazon.

Cons

  • No current third party accessory ecosystem.
  • Wi-Fi only, no Bluetooth.
  • No built-in virtual assistant.

Final Word

Ikea and Sonos set out to completely disrupt the market with the Symfonisk line and in the case of the bookshelf speaker they have done just this. You simply cannot get a speaker of this quality and feature set elsewhere. In fact, the price point leads them to being purchased in pairs. If you have a Sonos Soundbar, this is the perfect rear speaker. If you use Siri over Alexa or Google Assistant, there is little reason to spend the extra money on the Sonos One. At to that, it doubles as a small shelf.

This little speaker, may be the most important thing either Ikea and Sonos have ever done. It brings high quality multi-room audio to a form and price that everyone can afford.

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