The primary desk lamp speaker from Ikea and Sonos was a little bit… unusual. With its bulbous, mushroom-esque lampshade, fabric-covered speaker, and a plate beneath all of it, the unique Symfonisk lamp wasn’t precisely a common match for residence decor. However the idea of a lamp that additionally doubles as a succesful speaker was in itself a good suggestion — so the businesses are again with their second strive at it. The brand new Symfonisk has a extra conventional design, fixes the unique’s frustratingly restricted bulb compatibility, and has a revamped speaker structure that does a greater job spreading sound all through a room.
Ikea is now promoting the bottom/speaker and lampshade individually; the previous prices $140, and you may choose between a glass ($39) or textile ($29) shade. The glass shade — I reviewed the black one — is now open-ended and has a secondary, opaque glass cylinder working up the center, which encircles the bulb. It’s nonetheless not going to be everybody’s style, however the general type is a little more conservative and fewer prone to stand out for the mistaken causes. That mentioned, for those who despised how the unique appeared, I doubt you’ll reverse course after seeing the brand new mannequin.
The lamp base has ditched the underside saucer plate, which was the place the controls have been positioned on the older mannequin. It’s noticeably shorter consequently and appears fairly just like Apple’s authentic HomePod. Ikea additionally moved away from the looks-like-a-dimmer-but-isn’t knob for turning the lamp on or off. As a substitute, there’s now a small round button on the decrease entrance space of the bottom for powering the sunshine.
One draw back of this modification is that whereas the outdated knob might be left to “on,” this easier button doesn’t protect the bulb’s state within the occasion it will get unplugged or for those who lose energy. That may get annoying for those who’re utilizing good bulbs because you’ll must stroll over to the lamp and toggle the bulb energy again on to manage them remotely once more. Round again are the same old Sonos controls for quantity and play / pause. The amount buttons are simple to function by really feel since one is concave, and the opposite is convex.
The 2019 Symfonisk lamp solely supported lightbulbs with an E12 base, which got here with a double whammy of being more durable to seek out and outputting lackluster brightness for a desk lamp. With the brand new mannequin, Ikea has switched to the rather more frequent E26 / E27 base. The corporate consists of one in every of its personal LED bulbs within the field, however you’ve acquired loads of decisions for good bulbs from Philips Hue, LIFX, and others that may screw into the lamp in order for you a touch of coloration or extra versatile methods of controlling the sunshine remotely.
Establishing the lamp speaker is a brief course of within the Sonos app: plug within the removable, braided energy twine, and it’s routinely detected and added to your whole-home audio system a couple of moments later. For the ultimate step, you maintain your cellphone close to the system to complete linking it to your Sonos account by NFC. After that, the Symfonisk lamp acts like some other Sonos speaker you’ve acquired. You’ll be able to group them collectively to get the identical tune taking part in all through your dwelling area or simply have the lamp do its personal factor. Like different fashionable Sonos audio system, the lamp helps Apple’s AirPlay 2, so it’s simple to play audio on it from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. If you happen to purchase two of the lamp audio system, they can be utilized as a stereo pair or function rear surrounds for one in every of Sonos’ soundbars. Assuming the design is to your style, it’s a extra refined answer for surrounds than placing audio system on stands or wall-mounting them.
Not one of the Symfonisk merchandise to this point have include built-in microphones, and that is still true with the second-gen lamp. So as to add voice controls to your Sonos system, you’ll both want one of many firm’s voice-enabled audio system or to arrange Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for those who already personal a appropriate system.
Ikea and Sonos say the second-generation Symfonisk lamp has a very redesigned acoustic structure. Essentially the most important addition is a waveguide that’s meant to higher disperse and unfold the speaker’s sound round a room. (There’s an identical waveguide within the image body speaker.) This implies you gained’t have to fret a couple of slim “candy spot” when discovering a spot for the lamp; it ought to sound constant no matter the place you place it in a room. However the re-engineered guts have modified the general sound sufficient that the Symfonisk doesn’t sound as near a Sonos One as the unique did.
For its measurement, there’s a really satisfying degree of bass, and vocals come by with good readability. However different elements of the combo can sound much less detailed in comparison with most Sonos audio system, and a few instrumentation falls deeper into the background than I’d like. Listening to Kacey Musgraves’ new album Star-Crossed, this speaker noticeably lacked some brightness and definition on her vocals and acoustic guitars on a tune like “Hookup Scene.” There are EQ changes for treble and bass within the Sonos app, and you may as well run TruePlay (you probably have an iOS system) to additional optimize the sound. However there’s at all times a slight muddiness to the speaker, although it’s not as current or apparent relying on what you’re listening to. That’s the tradeoff you’re making for the broader sound dispersion.
If you happen to’re searching for an honest speaker for a bed room or workplace — and also you actually need it to double as a lamp — the brand new Symfonisk makes good on that hybrid performance. However to me, the $99 bookshelf speaker stays one of the best worth and most sensible system within the Symfonisk lineup, particularly once you put two of them collectively.
On the subject of the wall artwork speaker or the lamp, they’re much less versatile. You’re both searching for this very particular dual-purpose factor, otherwise you’re in all probability not in any respect. In case you are , the second-generation Symfonisk lamp fixes a number of what Ikea acquired mistaken the primary time. It appears (barely) extra typical, helps an easier-to-source bulb, and will get a wider audio unfold out of the drivers inside. The notion of cloaking expertise inside different, extra inviting family home equipment will certainly be a giant plus for some. However for those who’re already set on lamps and okay with displaying audio system that don’t conceal their true objective, you are able to do higher for the cash.
Pictures by Chris Welch / The Verge