Ikea Sonos Symfonisk Lamp 2 review: the loudest lamp in the world
- Sonos-quality audio
- 360 degree sound
- Accepts standard E26/27 bulbs
- No microphones
- Unusual design
- The lamp does not maintain the power state
The Symfonisk speaker lamp is still a little quirky, but for smaller spaces it’s a practical hybrid, and the aesthetics and audio have improved over the first generation.
Price when reviewing
$169 (textile shade) | $189 (glass shade)
Best Prices Today: Ikea Sonos Symfonisk Speaker Lamp 2
Updated December 14, 2022 – Ikea adds the option to buy it as a floor lamp, including a new bamboo shade.
The partnership between flatbed furniture giant Ikea and Wi-Fi speaker masters Sonos has been fruitful, if a bit odd, and nothing characterizes it more than the Symfonisk lamp speaker: a product hybrid that is both a no-brainer and a complete oddity.
I was a huge fan of the original tube speaker, but it clearly had some flaws. That’s why I’m glad to see that both companies have come back to try their luck, and while this second generation isn’t perfect, it’s by far the Symfonisk speaker that will suit most people.
Design and build
The first Symfonisk lamp looked… unique, to say the least. This second version is clearly close, but Ikea has stripped it down a bit with a design that should suit a few more living rooms than before.
Available in white or black, it also comes with a choice of lampshade. I’ve revamped it with a frosted glass shade reminiscent of the original, but you can also opt for a double layer fabric version if you prefer. You can also mix and match a white lamp with a black shade, or vice versa.
Since its launch, Ikea has also announced a new floor lamp version, which takes the same speaker but puts it on a tall stand for a more vertical light source – including a new, softer bamboo shade. As before, all parts are compatible with each other.
The speaker body itself is still wrapped in a fabric mesh, but the flared plastic base of the first generation has been removed for a smoother cylindrical silhouette.
The controls are also simpler. The previous button – which always suggested dimming controls that were never there – was replaced with a simple push switch to turn on the lamp. Around the opposite side you’ll find play/pause and volume buttons for the speaker.
Separating them was probably to make it easier to turn on the lamp without accidentally interrupting your music, but it’s a bit odd having to reach behind the speaker to press a volume button. Again, this can be a smart move – with people likely to control their audio from a phone more often than not, there’s something to be said for tucking away buttons you may not be using. often – but which you must have from time to time while.
Ikea has also made the smart move to switch to the common E26/27 bulb fitting, so you’re more likely to take bulbs you already have – and it’ll be easier to find a replacement if you need one.
You can use a regular bulb, or you can of course fit the lamp with a compatible smart bulb – either from Ikea’s Trådfri range or from any other manufacturer.
It’s worth raising a small annoyance though – if the lamp loses power (either through a power outage or being unplugged) it won’t remember its power state, so any smart bulb will have to be reactivated manually. It shouldn’t happen too often, so it’s not a dealbreaker, but keep that in mind.
Once again, audio comes courtesy of US audio company Sonos, which makes its own impressive range of Wi-Fi speakers alongside these Ikea collaborations.
Given the size and price, you might be secretly hoping this is a way to pick up the $219 / £199 Sonos One for a little less – and get a free lamp to boot.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case, but don’t be too disappointed. The Lamp speaker has its own custom audio architecture – distinct from the Lamp One or the first-gen Lamp – and therefore doesn’t sound quite the same as either.
Sonos says improving audio dispersion is a priority this time around, so you get proper 360-degree audio wherever the lamp is, and don’t have to stress placement too much. That’s a smart priority for this product – you might be willing to put a speaker where it’ll sound best, but there’s probably only one or two places in a room where you want to stick a lamp.
There are tradeoffs to this decision. While the sound is fine, there’s a little less clarity here than I’m used to from Sonos speakers. On busy pop and rock tracks, it’s all too easy for individual instruments to get lost in the mix. And while there’s plenty of bass for everyday listening, it’s not enough to drive even a Covid-friendly party.
To be clear, this isn’t a bad speaker by any means – it’s bright and well-balanced, and can turn up pretty well for most genres. It’ll suit all but the most discerning listeners, but audiophiles hoping for cutting-edge Sonos will have to spend a bit more to get it.
You at least get the usual array of Sonos smarts. You can get the speaker online via Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and setup only takes a minute or two with the official Sonos app, including a final step of pairing the speaker with the app via NFC by touching your phone to it.
The app also gives you an equalizer to adjust the sound profile of the speaker, and of course options to connect to music services and pair it with other Sonos speakers for multi-room sound (or to pair two of them for stereo sound, if you don’t). I don’t mind having two lamps too).
It’s not a good smart speaker though. There are no microphones, so you can’t use it directly with Google Assistant or Alexa, unlike some other Sonos products that have virtual assistants built in.
If you are an Apple user, you can also use AirPlay 2 to easily control the speaker from your iPhone, iPad or Mac. There’s also support for Apple’s TruePlay, which you can use to optimize the sound if you have an iOS device handy.
Price and availability
At $169/£185 for the textile version and $189/£199 for the glass, the Symfonisk is about the same price as its predecessor. For a bit more you can get the Sonos One, which has slightly better sound and built-in voice controls – but it’s not a lamp.
As of this writing, we don’t know how much the floor-standing version of the lamp will cost, and likely not until it goes on sale in January 2023.
Basically, even putting other Sonos speakers aside, you can get a better speaker elsewhere for the money, although I don’t mean to downplay the quality too much here.
The question is: how much is a light bulb worth to you? Or, to be more fair: how much space is the saving of a speaker and tube combined worth to you?
It is not unfair to say that the Symfonisk lamp remains a bit strange. How many people really need, or even want, a light that’s also a speaker?
But for smaller spaces it’s a practical hybrid, and aesthetically demanding people can also relish the ability to hide their audio gear in a less obtrusive piece of home furniture.
If all you want is a speaker, you can probably do better than that – the modest price jump to the Sonos One is certainly worth it. But if you like the idea of a lamp that makes noise, this is a solid refinement of Ikea’s unique vision.
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