The Symfonisk Picture Frame is an impressive speaker – especially for its unusual design – with the usual array of Sonos smart features and connectivity. It’s just a shame that it’s limited to Ikea’s pre-made picture frame range, which perversely means it can replace a speaker, but not a real picture frame.
Price when reviewing
Best Prices Today: Ikea Sonos Symfonisk Picture Frame Speaker
Update: This review has been amended to reflect the addition of new artwork designs to the picture frame range.
The Picture Frame is the third installment in the Symfonisk series, the collaboration between kit furniture giant Ikea and sound specialists Sonos.
Much like the two Symfonisk speakers that came before it – one built into a lamp, the other designed to fit snugly into a bookshelf – the Picture Frame is designed to blend into the home without having the ostensibly technical.
The name is a little misleading because by any reasonable measure it’s not a picture frame – but it’s a speaker designed to look like a piece of art hanging on the wall.
Despite that, the sound quality is impressive, and the compatibility with the rest of the Sonos ecosystem makes it a good buy as a standalone speaker or as an extension of an existing Sonos setup.
Design and build
Unable to display your own images
The Picture Frame Speaker is a slim, rectangular block that measures 41 x 57cm – not quite a wall, but clearly designed to take pride of place in a room. Ikea also includes setup instructions for provocatively leaning the frame against something instead of mounting it, but I really don’t know why you would do that unless you rent and aren’t allowed to drill holes in the walls.
I have already said that it is not, strictly speaking, a photo frame. This is because you can’t mount your own artwork, photos or prints on it, and instead are limited to Ikea’s pre-existing range of designs.
The two default options are a minimalist dot and line design, available in white or black – with the frame body color matching your choice. The fabric prints are replaceable, and at launch Ikea showed off a range of fourteen different designs, available for $22 / £30 / €30 each, although not all went on sale worldwide.
Since its launch, Ikea has expanded the range with a trio of designs based on famous works of art: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life. Each of the three is accompanied by a unique soundtrack by composer Franz Edvard Cedrins, inspired by the original painting.
The good news is that replacing or swapping the frame is easy – it’s as simple as pulling the fabric mesh out of the body, as it’s only held on by lightweight plastic pegs. The bad news is that because the fabric image is attached to a plastic frame, there’s no easy way to adapt it to include your own artwork – at least not without some serious craftsmanship. or a likely compromise in sound quality.
If the speaker proves popular enough, we hope that Ikea – or a third party – will develop the ability to print custom designs onto the mesh fabric panel, in which case the picture frame will look much more appealing. The current ‘tasteful hotel room’ aesthetic isn’t quite what I’d want in my own home, but I’d like the opportunity to mount my own choice of impressions here.
The only other thing to note is that – at 60mm – the frame is quite thick, so it will protrude quite a bit from the wall. It makes it a bit more obvious that it’s more than it looks, but the illusion still holds – I’ve had plenty of surprised visitors as the music starts playing from the artwork. art.
Setup and Installation
Requires a drill and screws
Digital setup is simple
Power two speakers from one power cord
There are two elements to the setup here: physical and digital.
The physical side is easy enough, but will require some DIY know-how – and equipment. The frame comes with a metal bracket for wall mounting, but due to its weight – 3.8kg – this will require more than a nail driven into the wall.
Fixing the bracket properly will require a drill and screws (not supplied), so you’ll need to be comfortable trying out – and have the right to, as not all tenants are allowed to drill holes in the walls. The silicone rubber feet will at least prevent your wall from scratching while dampening the vibration of the speaker.
You might think that all the drilling is the reason Ikea offers the option of just bracing the frame against a wall, but even for that the company recommends screw mounting, presumably to prevent the frame from tipping over with vibrations.
The frame is designed to be positioned in landscape or portrait orientations, and features full cable routing to keep cables tidy – although you’ll still need to manage a dangling power cable unless you’re drilling an extra hole to route it through your wall, or chase the wall to a lower outlet and re-plaster. For added neatness, an inexpensive extra power cable will allow you to daisy-chain two Symfonisk photo frames, both powered by the same power outlet.
The good news is that if you can overcome the slight hurdles of putting the thing on the wall, the digital half of the setup is painless. You’ll want to use the Sonos S2 app, and once signed up, it only takes a few minutes to connect the speaker to your Wi-Fi network (an Ethernet port is also included, if you prefer, but will get you an extra cable to worry about), with pairing handled by a quick press of your phone against the spot on the speaker where the power light is visible.
Surprisingly loud sound
Bass a little thin
It won’t be one of the best speakers you’ve ever heard, but that doesn’t have to be. Probably the best speakers you’ve ever heard are big, bulky and obviously technical – three things they’re not.
I will be let’s just say the sound quality Sonos has delivered here is remarkable considering the frame’s slim form factor. It can’t keep up with the Sonos Playbase I have to power my TV sound and will probably lag the Sonos One a bit, but not by much.
On the default setting, the bass is quite thin, with Run the Jewels’ “Out of Sight” propelling bassline falling short of the pulsing punch it demands. The basic EQ in the Sonos app – just the treble and bass sliders – compensates for this somewhat, but has its limitations.
The loudspeaker’s strengths clearly lie in the upper registers, where the company’s crisp, clear sound profile shines through. If you stick to mostly pop and rock, you’ll get the most out of this speaker, with punchy vocals flowing through an open, balanced soundscape.
Compatible with the Sonos S2 app
Wi-Fi or Ethernet only – no Bluetooth or aux
Not a smart speaker
Like most Sonos speakers, the Symfonisk uses Wi-Fi (or Ethernet) to connect, rather than Bluetooth – and there’s no option for an aux cable either. You can play most streaming services on the speaker through the Sonos app, including Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and even oddities like Plex, the Calm meditation app, and various radio services. on line. Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2 support makes streaming even easier.
iPhone and iPad owners can also use ‘Truplay’ to tune the speaker to the room it’s in for optimized sound, although unfortunately there’s no equivalent feature for those on the go. between us on the Android side.
It’s worth noting that there are no microphones here, so it’s not technically a smart speaker – although it can be connected to and controlled by other smart speakers and virtual assistants.
Using the Sonos app, you can link it to other Symfonisk and Sonos speakers for multi-room sound, seamlessly syncing sound throughout your home. You can also connect it to another Symfonisk photo frame to create a stereo pair in the same room.
The app can also be used for the basic audio options mentioned above and to control the speaker. If you prefer, the physical buttons behind the bezel edge control play/pause and volume – although these won’t be much help if you’re mounting the speaker high on a wall.
Price and availability
The Picture Frame Speaker is available exclusively at Ikea, in-store or online. At £179/€179/$199 it’s the most expensive Symfonisk to date – you can buy a pair of bookshelf speakers for the same price, while the lamp is closer to the frame but still works a little cheaper.
Arguably the closest comparison is that it’s fair against the £199/$199 Sonos One, the main speaker in the company’s range. This will offer better audio quality than the Picture Frame, but without the low profile form factor.
Another mixed success from the collaboration between Ikea and Sonos is the Symfonisk Picture Frame. It can’t quite match the sound quality or simplicity of the lamp – still the best product in the range – but what the two companies have achieved here is undoubtedly impressive.
The biggest snag is the restriction to Ikea’s limited range of premade picture designs, which perversely means it can’t actually replace a regular picture frame in your home unless you like some of the prints offered here.
If Ikea ever offers the ability to print your own photos, that will be a game-changer – but until then it’s just a good speaker that suffers from wasted potential.