IKEA and Sonos have revealed their latest partnership in the Symfonisk range of wireless speakers – and it's a literal work of art.
The Sonos IKEA Symfonisk picture frame WiFi speaker is designed to seamlessly blend into your home, with interchangeable fronts that give you a choice of artworks and double up as the speaker's grille.
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Measuring 22 x 16 x 2 inches (H x W x D), and will come in either black or white, with two different styles of artwork to choose from initially.
You can choose to hang it up or lean it against a wall; if you go for the latter option, there are removable rubber feet to prevent unwanted vibrations muddying the sound. Handily, these feet simply slot into a cavity at the back of the picture frame speaker when not in use.
In spite of its flat, wide shape, we're expecting Sonos' characteristically full sound from the new picture frame speaker.
As Sara Morris, principal product manager at Sonos explained, the speakers' slim edges are deceptively deep, allowing for the acoustic resonance you need for a powerful audio performance and thumping bass.
There's also a wave guide on top of the tweeter, which "kicks the high frequency sound to the whole room", so you should get a room-filling sound.
You can also stereo pair two picture frame speakers, using a cable that will be sold separately (price TBC). This feature will only work with two picture frame speakers, so you wouldn't be able to stereo pair it with a Symfonisk bookshelf speaker, for example.
As Sonos' vice president of product management Chris Kallai says, this is because the company is trying to deliver "a great sound experience, and trying to ensure two different speakers sound the same is not really feasible to do".
Don't be too disappointed though; you can group the Symfonisk picture frame speaker with other Sonos speakers in mono, if you want to increase the volume of your music.
As you may have guessed from the name, the new Sonos Symfonisk speaker comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as support for AirPlay 2. However, there's no Bluetooth support, so you won't be able to simply stream your music from your device unless you're hooked up to your home's Wi-Fi network.
It's a shame that there's no Bluetooth support for times when you don't want to mess around with the Sonos app (if you don't have an iOS device for AirPlay), but we suppose you won't be taking the picture frame speaker out and about and away from your Wi-Fi network very often.
It will be available to buy from July 15, and will cost $199 / £179. Australian pricing is still to be confirmed, but that works out at around AU$250.
Sonos and IKEA have teamed up in the past to create wireless speakers that look like pieces of furniture; in 2019, the companies launched a bookshelf speaker and a lamp speaker.
The expansion of the Sonos IKEA Symfonisk range is indicative of a wider trend for speakers with innovative designs that allow them to double up as home furnishings, and even pieces of actual furniture.
As Sara Morris told us in a recent interview, “there are areas in the home where a speaker doesn’t fit”, whether that’s because of a lack of space, power, or because “technology isn’t the focus, like in bedrooms”.
“By building speakers into home furnishings we can overcome both of these challenges and let people decorate their home with both the objects and the sound," she explained.
Sonos isn't the only company challenging our perception of what a wireless speaker should look like. Bang & Olufsen recently released a wireless speaker that looks like a book, allowing you to place it unobtrusively on a shelf, as well as a modular speaker that can be wall-mounted to save precious space. Meanwhile, JLA (opens in new tab) has created high-fidelity downwards-firing speakers that double up as stylish coffee tables, while Transparent’s Acoustic Sculpture blends art and audio in a way we’ve never seen before.