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IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf Speaker Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jun 09, 2021 at 10:22 am
IKEA  SYMFONISK Bookshelf Picture
6.7
Music
5.7
Videos/Movies
6.4
Podcasts
2.8
Voice Assistant
4.7
Outdoors
Bluetooth
No
Wi-Fi
Yes
Speakerphone
No
Voice Assistant
No
Battery Powered
No

The IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf is a collaboration between IKEA and Sonos. This rectangular speaker can blend in nicely with most home decor. You can mount it to your wall and use it as a shelf, though the wall-mounting brackets aren't included in the box and must be purchased separately. It has a bright sound profile, which you can customize thanks to the bass and treble sliders featured on its Sonos S2 companion app. It also comes with the Sonos Trueplay room-correction feature, which adjusts the speaker's sound according to the acoustics of your room, but this is only available on iOS devices. Also, this speaker doesn't support Bluetooth, so you can only use it to play your audio over an internet connection.

Our Verdict

6.7 Music

The IKEA SYMFONISK is alright for music. Its balanced mid-range ensures vocals and lead instruments sound present in the mix. However, its overemphasized treble range can cause higher-pitched vocals and instruments to sound harsh at times. It also struggles to reproduce low-bass, so you can't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy music like EDM. Fortunately, the companion app features bass and treble sliders you can use to tweak its sound to your liking. While it can't get very loud, there are few compression artifacts present at max volume. This means your audio sounds clean at louder volumes.

Pros
  • Bass/treble adjustments.
  • Few compression artifacts at max volume.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Downmixes stereo content to mono.
5.7 Videos/Movies

The IKEA SYMFONISK is sub-par for videos and movies. This speaker doesn't get very loud and struggles to reproduce a thumpy and rumbling low-bass, which fans of action-packed movies and videos may find disappointing. That said, there are few compression artifacts present at max volume, so your audio should remain clean at louder volumes. Unfortunately, it has to downmix stereo content to mono which doesn't sound as immersive.

Pros
  • Low Apple AirPlay latency.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Downmixes stereo content to mono.
6.4 Podcasts

The IKEA SYMFONISK is okay for podcasts. Its well-balanced mid-range ensures voices and dialogue sound clear, making it suitable for listening to dialogue-heavy audio content like audiobooks or podcasts. However, its overemphasized treble range can make sibilants like 'S' and 'T' sound harsh at times. That said, its companion app features bass and treble sliders you can use to adjust the speaker's sound to suit your preferences. While this speaker isn't very portable, you can connect it to compatible speakers in your house and stream different audio in different rooms at once.

Pros
  • Bass/treble adjustments.
  • Few compression artifacts at max volume.
Cons
  • Doesn't get very loud.
  • Not very portable.
2.8 Voice Assistant

The IKEA SYMFONISK doesn't have any voice assistants. That said, the manufacturer claims you can use assistants to control the speaker when it is connected to a compatible voice-enabled Amazon or Google Home device. However, we don't test this as it requires a third-party device that needs to be bought separately.

4.7 Outdoors

The IKEA SYMFONISK isn't designed for outdoor use since it's a wired-only speaker and needs to remain plugged into a power outlet for it to work.

  • 6.7 Music
  • 5.7 Videos/Movies
  • 6.4 Podcasts
  • 2.8 Voice Assistant
  • 4.7 Outdoors

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style
RGB Lights No

The IKEA SYMFONISK is a sleek, rectangular speaker designed to blend in with your home decor. You can place it horizontally or vertically. You can also mount it to your wall to use as a shelf, though the mounting brackets aren't included and must be purchased separately. This speaker comes in two colors, 'Black' and 'White'.

5.2
Design
Portability
Volume
288 inยณ (4,727 cmยณ)
Weight
4.6 lbs (2.1 kg)
Power Source
AC Only
One-Hand Carry
Yes

This speaker isn't very portable. While you can carry it with one hand, you can't easily take it outdoors with you since it isn't battery-powered and needs to remain plugged into a power outlet to work.

6.4
Design
Build Quality
Material Quality
Good
Water Resistance
No
Dust Resistance
No
Impact Resistance
Unspecified
Floats In Water
No

The IKEA SYMFONISK's build quality isn't bad. Its body is mostly ABS plastic, while its front is covered by polyester fabric. You can pull on the SONOS/IKEA tab to remove the speaker's front panel to see its drivers. There are also rubber feet on two of the speaker's sides so it can sit either horizontally or vertically. Since this speaker isn't for outdoor use, it doesn't have an IP rating for dust and water resistance, and we don't currently test for this.

6.4
Design
Controls
Ease Of Use
Decent
Feedback
Okay
Music Play/Pause
Yes (Physical)
Call Answer/End
No
Volume Up/Down
Yes (Physical)
Track Next/Previous
Yes (Physical)
Microphone On/Off
No
Additional Controls
No

The IKEA SYMFONISK's controls aren't bad and are pretty straightforward. There's a play/pause button you can double press to skip to your next track and triple-press to skip to your previous one. Pressing and holding this button for a few seconds duplicates your music from another eligible Sonos device. There are also + and - buttons you can use to adjust the speaker's volume. There's a small light next to the play/pause button that changes colors to inform you of its connection status. It will turn to a solid green when you reach the speaker's minimum volume, though it doesn't notify you once you've reached its max volume setting. Unfortunately, the buttons don't feel very clicky, and it may be hard to tell if you pressed them properly. They may also be harder to press if you have larger fingers.

Design
In The Box

  • Quick guide
  • IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf speaker
  • Ethernet cable
  • Power cable

Sound
7.0
Sound
Frequency Response Accuracy
Slope
1.56
Std. Err.
4.02 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
49.7 Hz
High-Frequency Extension
18.8 kHz

The IKEA SYMFONISK has decent frequency response accuracy. It has a bright sound profile, with a balanced mid-range that ensures vocals and lead instruments sound present in the mix. That said, its overemphasized treble range can make voices and sibilants like 'S' and 'T' sound honky and harsh at times. This speaker also struggles to reproduce the deep thump and rumble that fans of bass-heavy music tend to enjoy. Fortunately, its Sonos S2 companion app features bass and treble sliders you can use to customize its sound to your liking.

Note: We tested this speaker vertically, with its Trueplay room correction feature enabled and its bass and treble settings set to their default configurations. However, it's important to note that its Trueplay feature is only available on iOS devices.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
Binaural Recording @ 1m
Binaural Recording @ 2m
5.6
Sound
Soundstage
Directivity Index
4.47 dB
Stereo
No (mono)

This IKEA SYMFONISK has a middling soundstage performance. It has to downmix stereo content to mono, which doesn't sound as immersive. Its directivity is alright, so your audio sounds mostly clear from most angles. That said, its soundstage can be perceived as somewhat narrow and directional instead of wide and spacious.

7.2
Sound
Dynamics
SPL @ Max Volume
89.2 dB SPL
DRC @ Max Volume
1.80 dB

The IKEA SYMFONISK's dynamics performance is decent. While it can't get very loud, there aren't many compression artifacts present at max volume, so your audio sounds mostly clean during louder listening sessions.

Active Features
0
Active Features
Battery
Battery Life
N/A
Charge Time
N/A
Power Saving
No
Charging Port
No Battery
0
Active Features
Voice Assistant
Alexa
No
Google Assistant
No
Siri
No
Voice Activation
No
Microphone Mute
No Microphone
Far-Field Performance
No Microphone
Ambient Noise Performance
No Microphone

While the IKEA SYMFONISK doesn't have any voice assistants, the manufacturer claims it can be controlled by voice assistants when it's connected to a compatible voice-enabled Amazon or Google Home device. However, we didn't test this. Since this requires buying a third-party device, we don't consider it to support voice assistants.

9.3
Active Features
App
App Name
Sonos S2
iOS
Yes
Android
Yes
EQ
Bass/Treble
Stereo Pair Mode
Yes
Party Mode
Yes
Multi-Room
Yes

The Sonos S2 app is outstanding. It features bass and treble sliders you can use to customize the speaker's sound to your liking. You can also use it to pair it to another speaker to create a stereo pair or to multiple other compatible speakers when you want to play different audio content in different rooms of your house at the same time. Unfortunately, its Trueplay room correction feature is only available with iOS products.

Connectivity
Connectivity
Wired
Aux Input
No
USB Audio
No
Other Ports
Yes

The IKEA SYMFONISK has an Ethernet port you can use to connect the speaker to your network.

0
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
No Bluetooth
Bluetooth iOS Latency
N/A
Bluetooth Android Latency
N/A
Bluetooth Range
N/A
Multi-Device Pairing
No
7.6
Connectivity
Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi Version
Wi-Fi 4
Wi-Fi Frequency Band
2.4GHz
Apple AirPlay
Yes
AirPlay Latency
-14 ms
Google Chromecast
No
Chromecast Latency
N/A

The IKEA SYMFONISK is Wi-Fi compatible. It has an outstanding Apple AirPlay latency performance, making it suitable for watching videos and movies. Unfortunately, it doesn't have Chromecast built-in, which may disappoint some Android users.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The IKEA SYMFONISK speaker comes in two color variants, 'Black' and 'White', and we expect them both to perform similarly. We tested the 'Black' color variant; you can find its label here.

If you come across any other variants, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Speakers

The IKEA SYMFONISK is a sleek speaker designed to blend in with most home decors. You can mount it to your wall and use it as a bookshelf, though its wall-mounting brackets have to be purchased separately. Unfortunately, it doesn't support Bluetooth, so you can only play your audio over an internet connection. It also has to downmix stereo content to mono to play it, which doesn't sound as immersive.

See our recommendations for the best home speakers, the best Sonos speakers, and the best Bluetooth speakers

Sonos One SL

The IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf speaker and the Sonos One SL are similar speakers. The Sonos is smaller and has a more neutral-sounding sound profile. However, the IKEA can get slightly louder than the Sonos with fewer compression artifacts present at max volume, so your audio sounds clearer during louder listening sessions.

Sonos One Gen 2

The Sonos One Gen 2 is a slightly better speaker than the IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf overall, though they are similar speakers. The Sonos offers very good voice assistant support with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. It also has a somewhat better-balanced sound profile than that of the IKEA. That said, the IKEA can get slightly louder with fewer compression artifacts at max volume, so your audio remains clean when listening at louder volumes.

Google Nest Audio

The IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf and the Google Nest Audio are similar speakers, though they have different strengths. The IKEA has a better-balanced sound profile and can get louder with fewer compression artifacts present at max volume, so your audio should sound cleaner during louder listening sessions. It also supports Apple AirPlay and has very low latency over this connection, which may please Apple users. That said, the Google has very good directivity, resulting in a wider-sounding soundstage. It offers outstanding voice assistant support with Google Assistant built-in. It's also Bluetooth-compatible, so you can stream your audio to the speaker over a Bluetooth connection.

Sonos Five

The Sonos Five is a better speaker than the IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf overall. The Sonos can play stereo content without downmixing it to mono which sounds more immersive. It can also get louder than the IKEA and can produce deeper and thumpier bass. While the IKEA doesn't get as loud as the Sonos, it has fewer compression artifacts present at max volume, resulting in a cleaner sound when listening at louder volume settings.

Sonos Roam

The Sonos Roam is a better speaker than the IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf overall, though you may prefer one over the other depending on your listening habits. The Sonos is an incredibly portable Bluetooth speaker with outstanding voice assistant support with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. It also has better directivity, resulting in a more open-sounding soundstage. That said, the IKEA can produce a deeper low-bass than the Sonos. It can also get louder with fewer compression artifacts at max volume, so your audio sounds cleaner at louder volume settings.

Sonos Move

The Sonos Move is a better speaker than the IKEA SYMFONISK Bookshelf. The Sonos has a better-balanced sound profile and a wider-sounding soundstage. You can also use it to stream your audio over a Bluetooth connection, and it offers outstanding voice assistant support with Alexa and Google Assistant built-in. It's also outstandingly portable. That said, the IKEA has fewer compression artifacts present at max volume, and it has lower latency over Apple AirPlay than the Sonos. 

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