What if your bedside lamp could send you to sleep with a lullaby? Or if your bookshelf played relaxing tunes as you leafed through a dog-eared copy of your favorite book?
Many were skeptical when Swedish furniture retailer IKEA announced that it would be teaming up with the acclaimed audio brand Sonos – but both speakers scored an impressive four out of five stars in our recent reviews.
So, which of these unconventional wireless speakers would suit your home best? We take a look at the pros and cons of the lamp speaker and the bookshelf speaker to help make your decision easier.
Symfonisk lamp speaker vs bookshelf speaker: price and availability
In true IKEA fashion, neither of these speakers are particularly expensive; the cheapest of the two is the bookshelf speaker, which costs $99 / £99 / AU$149, while the lamp speaker will set you back $179 / £150 / AU$269.
That means the lamp speaker is closer price-wise to the Sonos One, which you can currently pick up for around $200 / £200 / AU$280 – and sometimes less, if you bag yourself a good deal.
So, if sticking to a budget is your biggest concern, you may want to opt for the bookshelf speaker, but neither is going to rinse your bank account.
Symfonisk lamp speaker vs bookshelf speaker: design
Let’s start with the Symfonisk lamp speaker, which, unsurprisingly, looks like a lamp – although instead of a traditional base, the base is essentially a speaker, encased in a white wraparound grille.
If you’ve had traumatic experiences with IKEA flat-pack furniture in the past, have no fear: you simply have to screw in a bulb, put the lampshade in place, and plug in the figure-of-eight power lead, and you’re ready to go.
While the Symfonisk lamp speaker doesn’t sport the slimmest build, it blends nicely into the home. In terms of connections, you’ll only find an ethernet port – both speakers can connect to your home network via Wi-Fi, but you may find a wired connection to be stronger and more reliable. Otherwise, the unit sports an on/off switch, and play/pause and volume controls.
The Symfonisk bookshelf speaker blends equally well into your home decor. It can be wall-mounted as a bookshelf that can hold up to 3kg of books or ornaments, or you can place it horizontally or vertically on any suitable surface.
Coming in white or black, the brick-shaped bookshelf speaker has a fabric grille on its front, with play/pause and volume controls. As with the Symfonisk lamp speaker, the only connectivity options you’ll find are a power lead and wired ethernet port.
Symfonisk lamp speaker vs bookshelf speaker: features
The Symfonisk lamp speaker and bookshelf speaker share many of the same features – and these wireless speakers are more than just basic IKEA products with a few drivers supplied by its audio partner.
Instead, they're fully-fledged members of the Sonos ecosystem, and as such can link to any other Sonos component you have on your home network; you could also pair two of the Symfonisk speakers for stereo sound, or even pair one with Sonos’ existing home cinema devices, like the Sonos Beam, Sonos Playbar, Sonos Playbase, or Sonos Amp.
This means you can even use the speakers as rear channels in a 5.0 or 5.1 surround sound system – pretty cool for a lamp and a bookshelf.
As Sonos products, both Symfonisk speakers eschew Bluetooth connectivity in favor of a home internet connection, via Apple AirPlay 2 or Spotify Connect.
The obvious difference between the two speakers is that the lamp speaker also functions as lighting for your home; what’s cool about this is that you could choose to fit it with a smart bulb, like the Philips Hue.
So, if you want to embrace the smart home, the Symfonisk lamp speaker allows you to do this more thoroughly than the bookshelf speaker.
Symfonisk lamp speaker vs bookshelf speaker: sound performance
Whether you’re using the lamp speaker or the bookshelf speaker, it’ll only take a few moments to connect them through the Sonos app, where you’ll also find various means of tuning the Symfonisk for optimal sonic performance.
One example is TruePlay, which uses the microphone built into your smartphone or tablet to scan the shape of the room you're in and amend the EQ settings accordingly.
The app also features a simple two-band equalizer that lets you fine-tune the bass and treble response. We found that both speakers benefitted from a little reduction in the bass, with Sonos’ Loudness feature left on to add some focus and punch.
Both the Symfonisk lamp and bookshelf speakers offer a full-bodied soundstage and a lively, enjoyable presentation; however, the lamp speaker fares slightly better in terms of accuracy and width.
That’s partly due to the circular wraparound grille utilized by the lamp speaker – this design allows its soundstage to open up more than that of the rectangular bookshelf speaker, for a more immersive listening experience.
That’s not to say the bookshelf speaker sounds bad; in fact, its audio performance is better than you might expect. Bold, focused and full-bodied, the Symfonisk bookshelf speaker certainly isn't shy about throwing music into the room.
Neither speaker offers the detail and precision of the Sonos One, but it's important to remember that they both offer dual functions, and also that they're cheaper than Sonos’ flagship wireless speaker.
Which Symfonisk speaker you should buy isn’t a particularly taxing decision: if you want a lamp, go for the lamp speaker, and if you could use a bookshelf, or just want a speaker that you can place on a bookshelf or similar, go for the bookshelf speaker.
If both appeal equally, it’s worth noting that the bookshelf speaker is significantly cheaper, and offers many of the same features as the lamp speaker; both are fully-fledged members of the Sonos ecosystem, and could therefore be paired with each other, or with other speakers to great effect.
The lamp speaker is the better-sounding of the two, by a small margin, with its wraparound grille providing a wider soundstage than the bookshelf speaker.
Whichever speaker you go for, you won’t be buying into a mere interior design gimmick: as well as making attractive focal points in your living room, the Symfonisk speakers are very capable audio devices in their own right.
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