It felt confusing and excited when IKEA released two new speakers built by Sonos. They’re a little weird-looking, first of all. (One speaker is also a lamp!) But what’s really extraordinary is that IKEA will soon be selling a full-fledged Sonos speaker for $149. (It doubles as a shelf!) We tested this new Sonos speaker — the cheapest Sonos you can buy — against the $299 Sonos One to see if it can keep up. The answer is basically, surprisingly, yes.
Editor's Note: The IKEA Sonos Symfonisk will be available in Australian IKEA stores September 27.
The $149 speaker in question is the new IKEA Symfonisk wi-fi bookshelf speaker, co-designed and powered by Sonos. It’s a foot tall or long, depending on how you position it, and quite frankly, that size feels big compared to a Sonos One.
The Symfonisk bookshelf speaker is outfitted with some mounts so that you can suspend it from a wall with a $30 bracket, and IKEA designed it to be sturdy enough to support 3kg of weight. There’s also a hook mount that sells for $15. Either way, the Symfonisk bookshelf speaker can also become a little piece of furniture, which isn’t something you can say about the Sonos One.
Purists would argue that a wireless speaker does not also need to be furniture. It just needs to play music and possibly give you access to voice assistants. This is where the Sonos One really excels. Equipped with two amps, a subwoofer, and a tweeter, this speaker offers impressive sound quality for something so small.
The Sonos One is also designed to send sound out in 360-degrees, while both Symfonisk speakers only send sound out the front. It’s worth flagging that Sonos says the $269 IKEA Symfonisk lamp has a similar driver setup as the Sonos One, but it’s also nearly the price of a Sonos One and lacks voice assistant support.
About those voice assistants. The Sonos One has an array of six far-field microphones and works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. But, aside from the sleeker, more compact design, this is essentially where the differences between the Sonos One and the new Symfonisk speaker stop.
The cheap new IKEA Symfonisk speakers are a full-fledged Sonos speaker. You set it up and control it with the Sonos app. You can also tune it using Trueplay, the proprietary Sonos feature that adjusts your speaker’s sound based on its position in a room. Perhaps most importantly, both IKEA Symfonisk speakers can be integrated into an existing Sonos system. So if you already own a couple of Sonos speaker and want to add music to more rooms in your house without spending much money, the $149 Symfonisk bookshelf speaker is a great option.
You can also buy two Symfonisk bookshelf speakers and set them up as a stereo pair, and if you own a Sonos Beam soundbar, you can add two of them as satellite speakers to create a 5.1 surround sound system. You can also do this with Sonos One or Sonos Play:1 speakers, which serves as a reminder of just how full-featured the Symfonisk speakers are.
So let’s look at the very simple maths. At $149 a pop, you could buy two Symfonisk speakers for the price of a Sonos One. A Sonos Play:1 costs $229, lacks voice assistant support, and sounds just a little bit better than the Symfonisk bookshelf speaker. So is it worth it to pay 50 to 100 per cent more for the classic Sonos speakers?
Frankly, the IKEA Symfonisk bookshelf is a great option for most people who are just getting into the wireless speaker game. It’s also a great way to fill out an existing Sonos system, and while the sound quality of the Symfonisk isn’t quite as great as the Sonos One, it’s good enough.