Checking Ikea and Sonos picture frame speakers: sound wall

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Ikea and Sonos are back with the latest product in the collaborative Symfonisk series. The purpose of the configuration is to make the technology – in this case wireless speakers – better suited to the interior of the home. After release table lamp and bookshelf speaker two years ago, companies came up with a third piece of legislation that requires no table, shelf or floor surface at all – because it hangs on your wall. The new $ 200 Symfonisk ”picture frame with Wi-Fi speaker“Available in Ikea stores on July 15th.

The name is a bit misleading because you can’t actually put any of your own pictures or posters inside this frame. A “wall art speaker” would be more accurate, but the end result is another attempt to disguise devices with a more comfortable design that blends in with the rest of the home.

The photo frame is designed to be installed and has all the necessary hardware (bracket, screws, etc.). But you can also just support it against a wall and use it that way; Ikea includes silicone feet for this purpose, and pre-installed felt pads keep the frame from damaging the wall. Whether you hang it or just stand on a shelf, it can be oriented horizontally or vertically. Most of the product is made of plastic, but the front panel with the artwork is made of polyester fabric. The three physical buttons for play / pause and track control are behind the left edge of the frame. The Ikea and Sonos brands are a visual indication of where to get and are easy to feel after a while.

Ikea’s default fabric mesh isn’t for everyone. Artist Jennifer Idrizi has said it is inspired by the “structure” of music – fading and fading. But on Twitter, the look has been mocked as being at home in a chain hotel, dental office, or kitschy Airbnb. I don’t envy the challenge of making art interesting to a wide audience.

If you don’t like the default image, you can purchase other prints to replace them.

Ikea plans to sell several different works of art for $ 20 a piece; switching between them is as easy as pushing the panel out through the eight openings in the back corners of the frame. Some people will not love any choices, and I really hope you could order custom templates for your own photos. Unfortunately, Ikea does not offer it, but the company says it will release new models on a regular basis. If the Symfonisk framework proves popular, aftermarket prints may appear on Etsy.

Another feature of the picture frame speaker that people have been thinking about is the power cord. A piece with a cable running along the wall ?! I can only speak for me, but it really hasn’t bothered me in the slightest. The fabric-covered white cord – even the black frame has a white cable – is 11.5 feet long, so you have plenty of room to get to the nearest outlet. If you don’t need the full length, there’s a small storage compartment on the back of the frame where you can wrap up and store the unnecessary cable (with Velcro to keep everything neat).

The visible power cord bothers some, but I didn’t care.

Ikea and Sonos have paid a lot of attention to the design of the frame, and one of my favorite little touches is that there are multiple wire routing paths due to the frame, so the power cord can come down from the left or left. on the right side if the dead end doesn’t work for you. It is also possible to daisy-chain two wall speakers with a cable (sold separately) if you want to keep things cleaner and save another outlet.

The controls are located behind the left edge of the frame and are easy to feel.

The back of the frame has a built-in cable management.

Since they cost the same, you may be wondering how the picture frame speaker is in terms of sound quality compared to the Sonos One speaker. They’re really remarkably close to performance. It feels like it’s a measuring stick that Sonos uses for the Symfonisk line. The bookshelf speaker was 80 percent of the way (for a lot less money), but the frame speaker is basically with one – despite the fact that the latter has more depth to work with. The bass is enough to give the music the sound it needs, but the walls won’t rattle at normal volume.

If you can’t afford a lot of desktop space, AirPlay 2 support makes the Symfonisk Frame a good speaker for all Macs.

Just like the One, the picture frame speaker is two or two above the average smart speaker (like the Amazon Echo or Apple’s HomePod Mini) in terms of sound quality. Sonos placed the waveguide in front of the tweeter to help evenly distribute high-frequency sounds around the room, and usually the hardware here is enough to fill most mid-sized spaces. You can also use Sonos ’Trueplay feature in the iOS app to tune the speaker output to the acoustics of a specific room. The picture frame speaker does not have built-in microphones, which is in line with previous Symfonisk products.

The installation is done with the Sonos application.

If you buy two Symfonisk wall speakers, they can be used around a Sonos Arc or Beam soundbar. Ikea sent me a pair so I could test how they perform in the home theater, and I came away impressed. Once you have set up another speaker, the Sonos app will automatically ask if you want to use them for surround purposes with any arc or beam that is already part of your system. Tap the button and the three devices will be grouped together in terms of both TV audio and music. (In this setting, for music, you can choose whether the picture frames produce a subtle blend — let the soundbar take the lead — or something more complete and noticeable.)

It sticks to the wall quite a bit, but at least you get a good sound in return.

Sonos added a waveguide to the tweeter to fill the room more evenly with the sound.

Ikea includes an 11.5-foot cord that should be sufficient to access the outlet.

The surround sound handling of the photo frame speaker is quite different from that of the Sonos One; the latter can be placed on virtually any shelf or rack in your TV room to ensure ideal immersion. If you have the right wall position for the two Symfonisk frames behind the couch, you’re probably fine; other layouts may require experimentation with placement and volume. They sounded good in my bedroom paired with the arch and LG CX OLED. The Sonos app has settings where you can enter how far away the surround speakers are from you, and you can also raise their volume (separate from the volume of the soundbar) if they are farther back in the room than you normally surround. The sound quality is not disappointing, but you may need to adjust the settings to achieve the most satisfactory results.

In terms of sound, the photo frame speaker is very close to the Sonos One.

The Symfonisk picture frame is basically a Sonos speaker; you can play virtually any music streaming service through the Sonos app. It also supports AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect – although no Bluetooth is present and no 3.5-input. You can group it with other Sonos speakers and play different music in each room, or let the whole system play the same thing.

What functionality and what it is does, none of Ikea and Sonos ’latest joint efforts are new or unique. And unlike the previous two Symfonisk products, this is not a particularly cheap way to enter the Sonos ecosystem. It is purely about form and aesthetics. If there’s a part of your house where a normal speaker simply doesn’t work – or if you live with someone who doesn’t want to keep very obvious equipment in every room, maybe this will do the trick. If you immediately jumped at the idea of ​​home theater surround speakers, the picture frame speaker won’t disappoint. Hopefully better hope you and Ikea have a similar taste in art.

The basic goal is for it to blend into your home like technology rarely does.

Photographer Chris Welch / The Verge

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