Ikea’s Symfonisk Picture Frame speaker is a cool concept, with one really obvious downside: although it’s called a “picture frame” speaker, it doesn’t work like a picture frame at all. – unless you consider Ikea’s limited number of pre-printed graphics the speaker grilles must be pictures. There is no way to place your own art on the front of the speaker, and even if you could it would ruin the acoustics of the speaker unless it was printed on the same type of fabric acoustically transparent that Ikea uses for its own covers. Fortunately, the Dutch startup Unique design developed a solution.
Unisk can print new fabric covers for the Symfonisk photo frame using any image, and designed a system that allows you to quickly and easily fit the new cover to your existing grille frame. Installation leaves the original Ikea art intact, and you can remove and replace (or just remove) the new cover just as easily. Each custom-printed cover costs 69 euros (about 79 USD, plus shipping if you are outside the EU). If you buy one, be prepared for a longer wait than you’re probably used to – each blanket is currently handcrafted and shipping can take up to five weeks from the time you submit your ordered.
I was eager to see what the results looked like, and Unisk was kind enough to provide a sample to Digital Trends so we could check it out. The ordering process is a breeze. Simply head to the Unisk website, choose whether you have your speaker in portrait or landscape orientation, then upload any image that meets the recommended specs of 4000 x 3000 pixels, in PNG or JPG format. You get an instant preview of how this image will look when installed on a Symfonisk Picture Frame speaker, in black or white versions. Enter your shipping and payment information and you’re done.
I suppose I could have used a photo of my family or our cats, or even used an image from one of the great free sites recommended by Unisk, but given that the Symfonisk photo frame is a speaker, I decided to use a pulp-fiction-music-mashup poster for the song Crazy world by Tears For Fears, from RecombinantCulture. You can purchase select Unisk covers directly from RecombinantCulture for $121. [Full disclosure: RecombinantCulture is run by a friend of mine.] When my blanket finally arrived – 44 days after I ordered it – it was packed in a thick, untreated cardboard envelope, along with a printed instruction sheet.
Installation is easy. You can pop the existing cover frame out of the Symfonisk speaker by pushing it through the oval-shaped holes in the back of the speaker. After laying the new cover upside down on a flat surface, lay the frame on top of it, taking care to center it over the new print. The Unisk cover comes with cardboard tabs that have been rolled around the edges, and all you have to do is slip each tab over the corresponding plastic posts on the back of the frame – corners first , then with each side, the shorter sides first. . If not completely straight, the fabric may be pushed back slightly in each direction.
There’s just one small caveat: Ikea’s covers are glued to the edges of their plastic frames, allowing the frame to line up almost perfectly with the case of the Symfonisk speaker. But the Unisk cover wraps around the edges of the frame, and I found that even after diligently pressing the frame into the speaker, the cover remained a bit proud of the cabinet.
So what does it look like? Like it came from Ikea that way. But more importantly, I think it looks better in real life than in the Unisk preview image, which is really all that matters. The material itself is matte and when printed there is a very slight sheen to it, but I doubt you’ll be able to see that in most indoor lighting conditions. the Crazy world Don’t let me judge the quality of a portrait shot by a professional, but it’s definitely accurate in color and detail to the source image I uploaded.
Frankly, Ikea should offer this service to customers, and if it did, I imagine it would cost less than what Unisk charges. But until that happens, Unisk provides the only way to customize a Symfonisk Picture Frame speaker, and the quality is excellent. Do you own a Symfonisk Bookshelf speaker? unisk made wooden and fabric covers for this speaker too.