Symphonic Picture Frame: Can a Speaker Be Art?

In collaboration with Sonos, Ikea is expanding its Symfonisk line. The newest member of the family? A photo frame with an integrated speaker: the Ikea Symfonisk Picture Frame. Does it deserve a place on your wall?

Symphonic Picture Frame: Artistic Speaker

There is no doubt that music is art. Whether it’s a classical piece by Mozart or the latest pop song by Lady Gaga. But the speaker where the sound comes out? That’s another story. We often talk about a beautiful design of a speaker, but by that, we really only mean that we think it fits well with our interior, or that it is an eye-catcher. But art? In our opinion, a HomePod is no more art than an old gramophone. But now the well-known Swedish furniture manufacturer comes and decides: ‘Yes, a speaker can also be art.’ And because they work together with the well-known American audio brand Sonos, the sound is also great.

Expansion for the Symfonisk family

The Symfonisk Picture Frame is now the third product in the series with which Ikea tries to integrate speakers into living concepts in the most natural way possible. But first, we need to answer an important question. Is it a picture frame with an integrated speaker, or a speaker in the form of a picture frame?

Well, Ikea has clearly opted for the latter, there are few possibilities to individualize the picture frame. The Swedish company only offers a limited selection of artistically printed fabric fronts. If you don’t like any of the twelve available prints, you’re out of luck. It is currently not possible to use your own holiday photos. Ikea does have plans to expand the number of artworks, but it is unclear whether you will ever be allowed to use your own snapshots for your own Ikea Symphonic painting.

The picture frame is made of plastic and is offered in white and black. The dimensions of the Symfonisk frame are 40 by 56 centimeters with a depth of six centimeters. The speaker is therefore not super thin, but the housing of the speaker section does not extend over the entire width. At the edges, there is therefore some air between the wall and the picture frame, which makes the Symfonisk appear narrower than it actually is.

Where do you place your Ikea Symphony Painting?

You can place the Symfonisk on the floor or on a piece of furniture or fasten it firmly to the wall. Suitable confirmations are available for all eventualities. If you lean the speakers against something, we recommend using the supplied silicone feet. These protect the picture frame from scratches and reduce vibrations. If the speaker is mounted on the wall, you avoid vibrations via felt pads attached to the back. Maybe the neighbors are happy too. You have to provide wall plugs and screws yourself. After all, it’s Ikea.

Power is supplied to the Symfonisk via a relatively long 3.5-meter cable. Cutouts in the back help to route the cable to the side or down. If you have a second Symfonisk Picture Frame and want to use both as a stereo pair, you don’t even need an extra socket. Instead, you can power the second speaker via a connecting cable from the first. This way you save a socket. Whether it is aesthetically pleasing to run a cable between the two speakers is something everyone has to know for themselves. In any case, it resembles modern art somewhat.

How do you connect the Symphonic Picture Frame?

Like the first two Symfonisk speakers, you control the list with the newer Sonos S2 app. The app guides you through the installation process, which can be completed in five minutes. As with the Sonos Roam, pairing is done via the NFC chip in your iPhone. Tap your iPhone against a certain spot on the picture frame, and you’re all set. In the app you can then add your favorite streaming services, including Spotify and Apple Music. AirPlay also supports the Symfonisk, of course.

If you don’t have your iPhone to hand, but you want to pause playback or adjust the volume, you can do that directly on the speaker itself. On the left, well hidden at the back, are the classic Sonos buttons. These are easy to reach and can also be operated blindly.

And the sound?

While Ikea designed the picture frame, Sonos was largely responsible for the sound. And once again this collaboration is convincing. The sound is certainly not to the liking of audiophile listeners who are spoiled with luxury speakers and high-end systems costing thousands of euros. However, for a speaker of 179 euros, the picture frame sounds quite decent. Like the first two models, the picture frame has one woofer/midrange and one tweeter. In addition, there is an opening in the top right corner that provides better bass.

Compared to the Sonos One, which delivers an excellent sound with great dynamics despite its small size, the Symfonisk sounds a bit cooler with more emphasis on the highs. You could describe the sound of the Symfonisk as airier, while it is better defined with the compact Sonos One. The low notes of the Symfonisk are not particularly intrusive at low volumes, which is ultimately a matter of taste. At higher volumes, the bass can be heard more clearly, but still without being obtrusive or boomy.

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