Our dwelling lives are shrinking. Last yr, the common dimension of recent homes constructed within the US fell for the third straight yr, in keeping with the National Association of Home Builders. Worldwide, the UN expects an increasing number of individuals to gravitate towards city areas over the following 30 years. The good houses of the longer term, then, could not contain hundreds and hundreds of sq. ft for networked home equipment and devices, however somewhat internet-connected merchandise that maximize the house they take up by serving multiple function.
That’s a part of the pondering behind Ikea’s partnership with speaker maker Sonos, the results of which is a brand new line of audio merchandise being launched underneath the title Symfonisk. As a results of this new collaboration, your lamp is a Sonos speaker. So is your floating bookshelf, affixed to the wall. I’ve them each in my residence. One of them, the bookshelf speaker, almost disappears, hiding in plain sight. The lamp is rather more … noticeable.
Ikea needs to make sure that its fame evolves as our houses and existence do, and partnering with Sonos a couple of years in the past was a part of that. Netherlands-based Ikea is called a lot for its streamlined furnishings aesthetic as it’s for its not-so-streamlined furnishings assemblies. As the corporate received into the smart-home house—first with related mild bulbs, then with good blinds—it aimed to get rid of inconveniences. Sonos, a pioneer in wirelessly related, great-sounding audio merchandise, was a super match.
Now the audio system are lastly right here and can ship in early August. They’re reasonably priced, so far as Sonos audio system go: The desk lamp speaker prices $179, whereas the bookshelf speaker prices $99. That value, a full $50 cheaper than the growing old Play:1, makes the bookshelf Symfonisk the most cost effective Sonos speaker accessible. Some elements of those audio system make them really feel much less premium than different Sonos audio system. But general, the Ikea-Sonos collab is a superb thought. After utilizing these, I can’t wait to see what they give you subsequent.
Tune In, Turn On, Light Up
The Symfonisk lamp ought to be appreciated for its idea however not essentially for its execution. Physically, it lends itself effectively to the form of a speaker. Its backside half has a rounded, cylindrical form. It appears like an Apple HomePod.
Unlike the HomePod, although, the speaker portion of the lamp is roofed in an unglued knit cloth. The undeniable fact that the material could be moved round along with your fingers signifies that it typically puckers or appears as if the stitching isn’t aligned, just like the speaker unexpectedly threw on a sock because it was working out the door.
A spherical, aluminum on/off dial protrudes from the aspect of the lamp/speaker. Its base is a light-weight, hole, plastic disc. The lampshade is product of mouth-blown frosted glass. It’s not fairly a globe, not fairly a muffin prime. It’s extra like … a mochi? Yeah, that’s it, a glass mochi. It homes a single bulb (one is not included, however you’ll be able to put any candelabra-style E12 bulb within the socket).
The lamp isn’t small. It measures 16 inches tall and 9 inches large. The white model—there’s additionally a charcoal model—sits on my finish desk, and it stands out. At night time, it offers that nook of the lounge an eerie glow however doesn’t supply an entire lot of illumination throughout the room.
One of the variations between these two new Ikea Sonos audio system and different latest Sonos audio system is that the Ikea variations use the outdated Sonos mechanical management buttons. This is a really small factor, nevertheless it contributes to the general sense that these are much less modern than, say, the $400 Sonos Beam soundbar. Which, for what it’s price, additionally just about disappears in my lounge.
The bookshelf speaker can be utilized as a floating wall shelf, one that may deal with a load of as much as 6.5 kilos. But I positioned my loaner unit as a vertical bookend on an current shelf and actually appreciated the way in which it slot in.
It too is tall; 12 inches excessive when positioned vertically. It’s taller than all of my books. And but it blends into the bookshelf, which is the purpose. Like the bottom of the desk lamp, the speaker is product of ABS plastic. Its entrance has a hard and fast cloth grille. And just like the desk lamp, the bookshelf speaker must be plugged in always. Portable audio system these are usually not.
I’ve spent a good period of time writing about how these Ikea Sonos audio system look, as a result of that’s a giant consideration while you’re shopping for a bit of furnishings or a house accent. But, clearly, how they sound is necessary.
Anyone who owns different Sonos audio system already has a fairly good sense of how they work. Sonos audio system join to at least one one other over your own home community so to stream your most well-liked music providers and podcasts to a number of audio system all through your own home. You can both group all of them collectively or management every speaker independently.
You do that by way of the Sonos app or, in some circumstances, along with your voice utilizing both Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant—though you’ll be able to solely run separately, somewhat than concurrently. While different good audio system, like these made by Apple, Google, and Amazon, clearly prioritize their very own providers or voice assistants, Sonos is a breath of contemporary agnostic air.
Specification-wise, the Ikea audio system are similar to $199 Sonos One. That mannequin has one mid-woofer, one tweeter, and two Class-D digital amplifiers. The Symfonisk audio system embrace the identical drivers and amp.
There is, in fact, extra to contemplate with audio system than simply watts and woofers, issues like sensitivity and distortion and software-enhanced calibration. But general I’d say the Symfonisk audio system supply a heat, mellow sound, excellent for a small residence, even when they wouldn’t blow the lid off a large dwelling.
The regular bass of Lou Doillon’s “Too Much” got here by easy on the Ikea desk lamp beside me whereas I labored from dwelling. Snares had been refined, not too harsh, and Doillon’s vocals sounded wealthy and melodious. The similar tune on the bookshelf speaker sounded barely thinner, and even at a better decibel stage, Doillon one way or the other appeared farther away. But to be clear, it seems like a Sonos.
The Ikea audio system don’t have built-in microphones, so you’ll be able to’t shout instructions immediately at them. You can, nevertheless, pair them wirelessly with one other Sonos voice speaker and even one other good gadget, like an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Nest Hub, and management the playback with voice that method. I’ve mine paired with the Beam, which is about up with Amazon’s Alexa.
One of the irritating issues about Amazon’s Alexa is the particular syntax it typically requires; my early instructions for Alexa to play music on my Ikea Sonos speaks fell on deaf robotic ears. Once I went by the Sonos app, although, renamed every speaker one thing memorable (“Ikea Bookshelf”), after which requested Alexa to play sound by that, it labored. You can even arrange multiroom audio instructions, however you’ll should undergo the particular voice-control app, not Sonos’ app, to try this.
When you’re not making an attempt to make use of voice, you’re going to manage your music by the Sonos app, as you’d with different Sonos audio system. Ikea is engaged on a model of its good dwelling app that can supply some music controls, however that received’t launch till the autumn. That additionally signifies that when you have Ikea good dwelling merchandise, just like the bulbs or blinds, and you’ve got the Ikea Symfonisk audio system, you’re going to have to make use of separate apps within the close to time period to manage these totally different gadgets.
The Ikea Symfonisk audio system are, at their core, Sonos audio system. But they’re additionally inexpensive than different Sonos audio system, and they’re designed to operate as each audio system and sleek-looking dwelling furnishings (even when the latter isn’t actually achieved—the lamp isn’t my type).
But I can inform you I’d instantly go purchase two of the Symfonisk bookshelf audio system if I didn’t have already got a couple of Sonos audio system in my dwelling. And they might take up even much less house than the Sonos audio system that I do have already got.
Which may simply be the place we’re headed: much less house, extra smarts, and nonetheless the sound of music.