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Ikea Symfonisk Table Lamp review: The best-sounding lamp you'll ever hear

The Ikea Symfonisk is an excellent-sounding Sonos-compatible Wi-Fi speaker dressed up as a really nice lamp.

Ty_Pendlebury.jpg
Ty Pendlebury
Ty_Pendlebury.jpg
Ty Pendlebury Editor

Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

4 min read

Ikea says that its new Symfonisk Table Lamp is "the best-sounding lamp in the world," and as far as I know, it's true. This lamp not only looks great and provides illumination, it's also one of the better Wi-Fi speakers at this price. It doesn't just slam two things together like a pen-pineapple -- each aspect has been well thought out, function and form combined.

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8.3

Ikea Symfonisk Table Lamp

The Good

The Ikea Symfonisk Table Lamp combines an attractive and functional lamp with Wi-Fi speaker that sounds great. It's compatible with Sonos multiroom speakers, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect and third-party music apps as well as Sonos' music app.

The Bad

Users who want "smarts" need to buy voice assistant speakers or smart bulbs separately. It takes smaller candelabra-style bulbs, which may limit the kinds of bulbs you use. The Sonos One sounds better and costs about the same.

The Bottom Line

The Ikea Symfonisk is an excellent-sounding Sonos-compatible Wi-Fi speaker dressed up as a beautiful lamp.

At the same $179 (£150) price as the first-gen Sonos One, the Symfonisk (like "symphony") Table Lamp isn't what you'd call crazy affordable. It's not a smart speaker like the One, nor is it a smart lamp like the GE Sol, so it won't do anything no matter how insistently you ask for Alexa. To get it to respond to voice commands you'll need a separate smart speaker like an Echo Dot.

On the other hand, the things you want it to do work really well: It's a nice lamp! It does sound good. And it has all the features and capabilities of a modern Wi-Fi speaker, as well as full compatibility with Sonos' multiroom system. If you need a bedside light and a great speaker, there is no other single product that can touch it. This truly is the speaker lamp to buy.

Why is this a thing?

Lights that are also speakers don't have an inspiring history. Sony's wacky LSPX-S1 costs an astonishing $750, while the more affordable $40 Sengled Bluetooth globe is just not great at being a speaker.

I knew the Ikea Symfonisk was different as soon as I opened the package. This is a well-built piece of equipment with a comforting heft when I pulled it out of the box. As a testament to the lamp's quality the lamp shade is glass, not paper or plastic. 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The table lamp comes with a knitted cover and while it may look removable it isn't, though I did find that I needed to straighten it a few times. It's not glued down. The front of the lamp features a simple set of controls on a plastic lip: a play-pause button and volume controls. The light control on the side is pleasingly analog with an oven-like switch. At the back, the only port you'll find is an Ethernet connection.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The Symfonisk range is a wireless speaker and can communicate over Wi-Fi -- like other Sonos speakers, it doesn't have Bluetooth streaming. The lamp is fully compatible with Sonos multiroom systems, and can be controlled either with the Sonos app, a third-party streaming service such as Spotify Connect, or with a voice assistant such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Apple's Siri. To help with this last point comes Apple AirPlay 2, which offers yet another multiroom option. Like other Sonos speakers, Symfonisk models can be paired in stereo or used as rears for the Sonos Beam if you want to get fancy.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

If you're disappointed by the Symfonisk's lack of built-in voice control "smarts," there's a few things you can do.  

For example, you can buy an Echo Dot or Google Home Mini, and plonk one of Ikea's Tradfri smart bulbs (in the smaller candelabra style) into the Symfonisk. Then you have a smart lamp and a smart speaker. If you have an existing lighting system from GE or TP-Link, I found that the lamp worked well with a $5-$6 adaptor, which accepted the more common screw-in bulbs.

The Ikea Symfonisk is compatible with the Sonos Trueplay calibration system but I found that performing it did little to tame the speaker's brighter tendencies.

How does it sound?

Unlike the Sonos One, the Symfonisk Table Lamp offers a 180-degree spread which leads to its more open sound. The Sonos One is more forgiving of brighter material, while the Lamp is a little more exciting in general. They both sound like Sonos speakers though, and that's a good thing. 

I played a lot of different material through both the Lamp and the One and came up with mostly the same results each time. The Sonos was warm, the Lamp was big but lacked the Sonos' rhythmic punch. One of the tracks I was most interested in trying out was Alt-J's 3WW. This track's ever-present bass bed can be a torture test for smaller speakers. While the Bose Home Speaker 300 played with the bass volume in an erratic way to prevent distortion, I was presently surprised to find that the track sounded balanced under the Ikea's steam.

It's worth noting that the Sonos One is still the speaker you should get if you like rock or pop music or anything compressed. The Symfonisk had a tendency for over-etched mids which could make synthesizers or lead guitars a little grating. For example, How Many Times from the new Flaming Lips record sounded a little bright on the Ikea and was much easier to listen to on the One.

Test your music system with these great rock tracks

See all photos

Swinging on a lampost

After using this product for a week I'm still tickled that it's a lamp -- a good lamp and a good speaker at that. If you only have space for one gadget it's one of the only multipurpose speakers I can recommend. It's lovely to look at, and it's lovely to use.

While Ikea isn't the first company you'd think of when buying a multiroom audio product, the Symfonisk Table Lamp offers one of the best excuses to brave the company's labyrinthine retail stores, and maybe try a meatball or two. 

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8.3

Ikea Symfonisk Table Lamp

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Sound 7Value 9
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