Ikea and Sonos picture frame speaker review: wall of sound

Ikea and Sonos are back with the latest addition to their collaborative Symfonisk series. The purpose of the lineup is to make technology (in this case, wireless speakers) better match home décor and furnishings. After launching table lamps and bookshelf speakers two years ago, the company has released a third act that requires absolutely no table, shelf or floor space. Because it hangs on the wall. The new $200 Symfonisk “Frame with Wi-Fi Speaker” will be available at Ikea stores on July 15th. The name is a bit misleading because you can’t actually put your own photo or poster inside this frame. A “wall art speaker” would be more accurate, but the end result is another attempt at disguising the gadget with a more pleasant design that blends in with the rest of the house. Good stuff Great, rich sound Make room for other stuff Two can be daisy-chained and only need one power outlet Bad stuff Not really a picture frame No Bluetooth or auxiliary input Some people want the cord to look ugly The picture frame is designed for mounting and comes with all necessary hardware (brackets, screws, etc.). But you can also put it on the wall and use it that way. Ikea includes silicone feet for this and has a pre-installed felt pad to keep the frame from causing wall damage. Whether hanging or just standing on a shelf, it can be used horizontally or vertically. Most of the products are made of plastic, but the front panel with artwork is polyester fabric. Three physical buttons for play/pause and track control are located behind the left edge of the frame. Ikea and Sonos branding is a visual cue of where to reach, and it’s easy to feel after a while. Ikea’s basic art designs for mesh fabrics aren’t for everyone. Artist Jennifer Idrizi said she was inspired by the “structure” of music, such as fade in and fade out. However, on Twitter, the appearance was ridiculed as being at home in a chain hotel, dental office, or vulgar Airbnb. The challenge is to create a work that can appeal to a wide audience. If you don’t like the basic art, you can purchase another print to replace it. IKEA plans to sell a variety of art prints for $20 each. It’s as simple as pushing the panel through the eight cutouts on the back corners of the frame. Some people will not like the choice, so we sincerely hope you can order custom designs for your own photos. Unfortunately, that’s not what Ikea offers, but the company says it will release new designs on a regular basis. If Symfonisk frames become popular, there will be a print aftermarket on Etsy. Another aspect of framed speakers that people wonder about is the power cord. A work in which the cable runs down the wall?! I can only talk about myself, but it didn’t really bother me at all. The cloth-covered white cord (the black frame also comes with a white cable) is 11.5 feet long, so you can plug it into the nearest outlet. If you don’t need that long, there’s a small storage area on the back of the frame for wrapping unnecessary cables (with Velcro straps to keep everything tidy). Buy something to do some magic or hide with a recessed outlet if the power is out due to the wires. The visible power cord was a bit annoying, but I didn’t mind. Ikea and Sonos put a lot of thought into the design of the frame, and one of my favorite little touches is that there are multiple chord routing paths that lead out of the frame. Right if Dead Center doesn’t work for you. If you want to keep things clean and save on a second outlet, you can also daisy chain two wall speakers with cables (sold separately). The controls are located behind the left edge of the frame and are easily felt. The back of the frame has built-in code management. For the same price, you might be wondering how the photo frame speakers compare to the Sonos One speakers in terms of sound quality. They are actually surprisingly close in performance. It feels like the measuring stick that Sonos uses for their Symfonisk line. The bookshelf speakers took up 80% for a much lower cost, but the frame speakers are basically on par with the One. There’s enough bass to give the music the grandeur it needs, but at normal volume levels the walls won’t rattle. If you don’t have a lot of free space, AirPlay 2 support makes the Symfonisk frame the perfect speaker for any Mac. Like the One, the photo frame speaker is one or two orders of magnitude higher than the average smart speaker (like the Amazon Echo or Apple’s HomePod Mini) in terms of audio quality. Sonos placed a waveguide in front of the tweeter to evenly distribute the high-frequency sound throughout the room, and generally the hardware here is sufficient to fill most average-sized spaces. You can also use Sonos’ Trueplay feature in the iOS app to adjust speaker output for acoustics in a specific room. The photo frame speaker does not have a built-in microphone, which is the same as previous Symfonisk products. Setup is complete with the Sonos app. Buy two Symfonisk wall speakers and use them as surround for your Sonos Arc or Beam soundbar. Ikea sent me a pair so I could test how they would work in a home theater and I was impressed. When you set up a second speaker, the Sonos app automatically asks if you want to use the Arc or Beam for surround purposes, anything that is already part of the system. At the push of a button, the three devices are grouped together for both TV audio and music. (For music in this setup, you can choose whether the photo frame outputs a subtle mix (let the soundbar drive it), or something richer and more substantial.) It sticks out quite a bit from the wall, but at least you’ll get a good sound in return can. Sonos added a waveguide to the tweeter, filling the room more evenly with sound. Ikea includes an 11.5-foot cord that should be large enough to reach an outlet. The way framed speakers handle surround sound is quite different from the Sonos One. The latter can basically be placed on a shelf anywhere in the TV room or on a stand for ideal immersion. A decent wall situation for the two Symfonisk frames behind the sofa would be fine. Other layouts may require some experimentation with placement and volume. Paired with Arc and LG CX OLEDs in my bedroom, they sounded great. The Sonos app has a setting that lets you enter how far away your surround speakers are, and you can also turn up the audio (apart from the soundbar volume) if you are usually further away from the room than the surround speakers. The sound quality isn’t disappointing, but you may need to tweak your settings to get the most satisfactory results. In terms of sound, the Picture Frame speaker is very close to the Sonos One. Symfonisk picture frames are essentially Sonos speakers. You can play almost any music streaming service through the Sonos app. It also supports AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect. But no Bluetooth and no 3.5 auxiliary input. You can group them with other Sonos speakers to have each room play different music, or the entire system to play the same thing at the same time. In terms of features and functionality, the latest collaboration between Ikea and Sonos is nothing new or unique. And unlike the two previous Symfonisk products, this one isn’t a particularly cheap way to the Sonos ecosystem. It’s purely about form factor and aesthetics. If there are parts of the house where regular speakers don’t work, or if you live with someone who doesn’t like to have a very prominent device in every room, this will help. If you jumped right into the idea of ​​a wall speaker for home theater surround, framed speakers won’t disappoint. You better hope you and Ike have similar tastes in the arts. The fundamental goal is to bring harmony into the home, as technology rarely does. Photo: Chris Welch / The Verge

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