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(Pocket-lint) - The Sonos Ikea Symfonisk range started with a speaker that doubled-up as bookshelf and another speaker that doubled-up as a lamp. Both sounded great and their dual purpose made them excellent additions to any home, especially those short on space.

Continuing the range is the Sonos Ikea Symfonisk Picture Frame with Wi-Fi Speaker - deep breaths after that mouthful of a name - and, as you may have guessed from it's name, it's a picture frame that's also a speaker. Though it serves a dual purpose, it's also designed for those who might want speakers to be heard but not seen. 

So is the Symfonisk Picture Frame with Wi-Fi Speaker worthy of a space on your wall?

Design

  • Dimensions: 570 x 410 x 60mm
  • Black or White frame options
  • 12 print options

First thing's first, the Sonos Ikea Picture Frame with Wi-Fi Speaker is a print holder rather than a picture frame - you have to choose one of the 12 prints available (and more will come each season) rather than being able to put your favourite holiday snap into it, or customise it with your own pictures. That's a bit of a downer.

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The available prints are quite diverse in terms of style - and inoffensive - so there's a good chance you'll find something to suit your décor. They are also interchangeable, so if you get bored of looking at one then you can easily switch it out by popping it out from the back.

The frame itself comes in black or white options - we had the black option for our review, as you can see from our pictures - and both come with a white power cable. This won't be a huge issue for most, especially if you have white walls, but we would have preferred the power cable to match the frame, like it does with Sonos speakers.

Sonos and Ikea branding is positioned subtly on the frame, while the material the pictures are printed onto has been designed with acoustics in mind, naturally. It can be hung vertically, horizontally (brackets come in the box), or positioned face up on the floor (there are rubber feet if you opt for this). 

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The control buttons - which consist of play/pause, volume up and volume down - are behind the frame to allow for a seamless finish on the front. You can double-press play to skip and triple-press to go back a track. You can also press-and-hold play to bring the Picture Frame into a group with other Sonos speakers.

Only an LED status light appears on the front when you need it, such as indicating where you need to tap your NFC-enabled smartphone for quick setup. 

A 3.5-metre white power cord comes connected to the device, which ought to be long enough for most. There are multiple gaps in the frame at the back to allow for the wire and enable the frame to sit flush to the wall. There's also a cavity at the back with Velcro for wrapping and securing any extra cable, which is handy.

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Within this cavity, you'll also find AC in, AC Out, and an Ethernet port - though we'd recommend using Wi-Fi, especially as otherwise you have an extra cable giving away the speaker identity of this piece of supposed artwork.

Features

  • Apple AirPlay 2
  • Stereo pairing
  • Trueplay tuning

The Sonos Ikea Symfonisk Picture Frame with Wi-Fi Speaker has most of the same features as traditional Sonos speakers. You'll find Apple AirPlay 2 support, stereo pairing, and unlike the Sonos Roam and Sonos Move speakers, you can add two as surrounds to a Sonos Beam or Sonos Arc soundbar. It's worth noting that you'll need another Picture Frame with Wi-Fi Speaker to stereo pair, you can't stereo pair it with a Sonos One, for example.

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All the standard Sonos features are on board, including equaliser adjustment, compatibility with over 100 streaming services, Sonos Radio, and Trueplay tuning - the last of which is definitely worth doing for sound optimisation based on your install. There's also the ability to group the Picture Frame with Wi-Fi Speaker with any other Sonos speaker, or have it play individually.

The Picture Frame with Wi-Fi speaker also supports the Sound Swap feature that launched with Sonos Roam - you can read more about that in our separate feature.

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The only features missing from the Picture Frame with Wi-Fi Speaker compared to some other Sonos speakers - like the Sonos One - is smart assistants. Although the Picture Frame Wi-Fi Speaker can be controlled using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, it doesn't have the smart assistants built-in. There is also no Bluetooth connectivity like the Sonos Roam or Sonos Move.

Performance

  • Waveguide for acoustic volume
  • Tweeter, woofer
  • Decent sound

Under the hood - or under the picture front, we should say - the Sonos Ikea Symfonisk with Wi-Fi Speaker squeezes in a tweeter and woofer despite its shallow depth, with Sonos using a waveguide to deliver acoustic volume. 

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We were pleasantly surprised by the sound performance of the Picture Frame with Wi-Fi Speaker. However, we aren't convinced we would choose it over a Sonos One, simply because we prefer the idea of just having a small speaker than a random piece of art on the wall.

Surprisingly it's still on the bassy side - like all Sonos speakers - despite its slim frame, and overall it delivers a good balance. We listened to a range of tracks in testing, from The Eagle's Hotel California and Massive Attack's Teardrop, to Pink Floyd's Time and Laura Marling's Soothing - just some examples - and we were continually surprised with the Picture Frame Wi-Fi Speaker's capabilities during testing. 

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Vocals and acoustics sound good; the speaker delivers decent bass for its format, while also handling treble well, and perhaps most surprisingly, we found ourselves appreciating it more the longer we had it. We wouldn't say it's quite as well-rounded as the Sonos One, but it's certainly better than the Symfonisk Bookshelf Wi-Fi Speaker.

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Verdict

The Sonos Ikea Symfonisk Picture with Wi-Fi Speaker won't be to everyone's tastes - literally, from a visual standpoint - but that's not because it doesn't sound great for its format, it's because it will only appeal to those who want to hide a speaker away in their home and who love the artwork choices enough to want to place it on their wall.

We love the concept of the Symfonisk Picture with Wi-Fi Speaker, and the design is certainly executed well, even if we think it's actually more obvious in a room than a traditional speaker. It's a solid product that's easy to setup, the artwork is easy to change, it works like a traditional Sonos speaker, and it even sounds good too.

But - because there is always a but - we would be far more likely to recommend this device if you could customise it with your own pictures rather than just the provided print options. Yes, it sounds good, but so does the Sonos One SL (which is the same price) or the Sonos Roam (which is cheaper), and those options are small enough to be discreet in your home, without taking up wall space with a piece of artwork that may not be to your tastes.

Also consider

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Sonos Roam

Cheaper than the Sonos Ikea Symfonisk Wi-Fi Speaker, this speaker is also portable, so very discreet if you want it to be. Its sound performance is excellent for its size too.

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Sonos One SL

This speaker sounds a little better than the Symfonisk Picture Frame Wi-Fi Speaker, and it's the same price. It is a traditional speaker, of course, rather than hiding that fact, but it's a great device - and two of them make perfect surround speakers.

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Writing by Britta O'Boyle. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 5 August 2021.