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Ikea SYMFONISK Picture Frame Speaker Review

Thomas_A

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Between the SYNFONISK book shelf speaker and ENEBY 12 inch, the ENEBY is clearly a much better speaker. IMO. I guess (but have no direct experience) that the ENEBY 12 inch will outperform the SYNFONISK picture frame speaker as well in terms of performance.
 

Thomas_A

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This speaker would be nice as surrounds in a lifestyle home theather. Are there any line-in:s ?

The Enebys have line in but the SYNFONISK/Sonos no. Some may perhaps come up with mods for these speakers. The picture fram speakers are really something nice for integration of life-style home theatres, especially for surrounds. 6 nice pictures around your sofa and you have at the same time 6 surrounds integrated. Cables may be a problem though...
 

Thomas_A

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This is indeed a flaw that renders the measurements useless if they do not reflect the speakers' real world performance.

Amir made two measurements of the THX-365IW showing that the response can be quite different depending on the method. So yes, It will be difficult to interpret what the measurements tell you for these kind of speakers.
 

Wes

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Well here, not far from the birthplace of IKEA, every IKEA store has a giant sign by the entrance that shows you how to navigate their store (including the shortcuts). How anyone could get lost in there is beyond me. .

You would have to read the sign.

Are you familiar with 'muricans?
 

Gyroscopics

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Hi, do you or anyone else have direct experience doing this? I am very curious as there are very few solutions to transmit an analog source via wifi. When you say "not perfect sound quality" does it mean that you think it is not suitable for decent music listening? What about the latency? Will it be a problem when you also have wired speakers in the same (big) room? Thanks for your thoughts

Latency is the biggest problem if you are watching TV. Compromised SQ is a problem for music. I have done it myself long time back and preferred other means. I've owned Sonos Connects (plural) for more than a decade and have tried everything with it.
 

Wes

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Zing, but are you familiar with europeans? They're the worst. Going to the local mall always make me lose faith in humanity,

I am pretty familiar with european scientists, and the occasional exchange student, not to mention the euro-trash who frequent Frenchmen St. in New Orleans... And I promise you that despite some euro peons, they cannot come near to plumbing the depths of Asstralians, South Africanerans, Texassians, and others of like ilk. Present company excepted. Statistical validity likely but untested in a regular program of professional care. Your mileage may vary. No warranty implied. Professional driver on closed course.
 

Ralferator

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Ikea SYMFONISK picture frame speaker designed by Sonos. I purchased it a couple of days ago from Ikea store for US $199. Their website said they had 42 in stock so they are planning to sell a lot of them. That said, there was not a single person looking at their smart home/audio booth.

There are two styles of this, one with white background and another with the same inverted so looks mostly black:
View attachment 142745
I have not looked to see how easy it is to change the fabric to something else.

There is some depth to the unit so unless you cut a hole in your wall, it will stand proud a couple of inches:

View attachment 142746

I liked the French cleat that came with it which I used to hang the speaker for measurements. Cable management is nice with that big hole where you can stuff the excess power cord. Interestingly, there is a pass through power plug so you can chain multiple while using one outlet. Smart!

Setup with these products as usual is hit and miss. The Ikea manual has no words in it, just pictures! So I go and download the Ikea app and naturally it can't find anything and keeps telling me In need one of their routers. My "Sonos 2" app did not work either. But there was another app called Sonos and that one did work. It uses NFS to auto-configure the speaker which was nice. But I did not appreciate that I could not just use the included Ethernet port and had to setup Wifi to use it.

The speaker exposes two protocols: Apple Airplay and Sonos. I could not get the latter to work with my Roon player but Airplay did and that is what I used for all of my measurements and listening tests.

There is some kind of honeycomb structure under the fabric. Even when shining light through it, I could not figure out where the drivers were. Listening by ear, I figured out that the high frequencies were coming out of dead center, vertically and horizontally, so used that for measurement reference point.

Since this speaker is meant to be installed on a wall, I spent an afternoon building a back baffle for it, hung it on Klippel NFS to measure, only to see nothing but garbage. This went on through the night until I realized that the special baffle measurement system from Klippel does NOT work for wireless speakers! Wireless speakers require asynchronous measurements where you play the tone in a music player, Roon in my example, and the measurement system attempts to figure out the timing using dual microphones. Well, this can't be combined with baffle measurement where the rear radiation is ignored. Klippel confirmed that this feature is not there but would be coming in a few months.

So I ripped out the baffle and just made a stand out of it to hold the speaker vertically on Klippel NFS platform -- not easy given the tiny size of the platform. Once done, the wall was the size of the inset in the back of the Ikea speaker so should not have created more diffraction than what it creates on its own edges.

Given the full 360 measurements, the data is not quite accurate for some of the measurements when you mount the speaker on the wall. So keep this in mind.

Also, the scan is slightly less accurate than typical due to lengthy process of measuring speakers asynchronously. Error reached about 2% in lower treble and kind of got out of control close to 20 kHz.

Ikea SYMFONISK Picture Frame Speaker Measurements
As usual we start with our spinorama graph:

View attachment 142749

I expected a disaster but that is not what we have. Yes there are a lot of jaggies which can have any number of causes (plastic enclosure resonating, diffraction effects, etc.) but considering this is a lifestyle speaker, seems like good attempt was made to get an "even" response. Directivity looks good (see later graphs) as well. I don't have near-field measurements for you because I could figure out where anything was!

Early window is a graph that you need to look at with some caution given the fact that we are using a full 360 degree scan rather than 180:

View attachment 142750

Putting the two together, we get decent predicted in-room response even though it too has some error in it:

View attachment 142751

The bass drops like a rock so perhaps that extra peak was there to perceptually compensate for it. Or maybe reference axis will be different in use to make that less so.

You can see that we are measuring back radiation through our trio of 1000, 2000 and 3000 Hz 3-D directivity contour plots:

View attachment 142752

It is actually rather clean at 1000 Hz and especially at 3000 Hz. The latter shows that I picked the center of the high frequency radiation correctly more or less.

Beam width graph floored me with how good it is:
View attachment 142753

We are talking Pro level powered monitor level here! You can see the same in our directivity plot:

View attachment 142754

I have drawn two lines at ± 100 degree which is my estimate of how far back the angle goes before you hit a wall. Assuming so, this speaker will be omni directional up to about 6 kHz or so. And even that it still will radiate broadly, adding to its overall loudness and even distribution of sound.

Vertically the picture is complex:

View attachment 142756

I have drawn the same lines for reference. I think we can say that it is also approximately omni even in that axis.

Here are our in-room measurements in near-field as far as distortion:

View attachment 142757

View attachment 142758

Can't figure out why THD between 1 and 2 kHz went down, instead of up as I turned up the volume. I wonder if it has some adaptive algorithm there. It is minor though.

Ikea SYMFONISK Picture Frame Speaker Listening Tests
I had two rounds of listening tests, one when I first configured the speaker prior to measurements, and another after. In the first round, I just had the speaker leaning against a coffee table. As soon as I played a track on it, I was shocked how good the sound was. Turn up the volume and it simply gets louder and that is that. It wouldn't get hugely loud but it never seems to show any signs of distortion. Overall tonality was very nice.

Post measurements, I went though my formal tracks using the positioning that you see in the picture above. One after the other, the sound tonality was close if not perfect. Dispersion was broad which gave a very nice feeling to sound. It is like an open window to what is playing. Everything was right so I felt no need to apply any EQ! As I type this, I am still listening to the speaker and don't want to stop.

Conclusions
Measurements of this speaker unfortunately is not quite the same as its in-use application. Still, signs of good design shine through in the form of great directivity and to some extent frequency response -- both on-axis and predicted-in-room. Subjective listening tests are even more impressive indicating either I don't know what I am doing when listening to speakers, or, wall mounting helps the response. Either way, there is some genius design at play here that is absent in other smart speakers I have tested and listened to. Considering that you can hang this on a wall and have it not look like an odd thing sitting some place, it is a major accomplishment.

Objective measurements don't fully support my highest honors but my listening test results do. So it is my pleasure to give a strong recommend to Ikea SYMFONISK picture frame speaker by Sonos.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Great review! Seems like an aweseome speaker. Do you prefer it over the Apple Homepod? Can it play louder?
 

JohnKay

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Further thoughts after more listening:

1. My issue with bass remains: Sometimes there's still too much for me, and so far the bass EQ in the Sonos app doesn't seem help - it seems to address a different frequency range than the one that's bothering me. As I mentioned before, I had the same experience with the Sonos One in my kitchen, so I don't think I'm imagining things. Still need to try different EQ settings and re-do the TruePlay tuning.

2. Bass issues notwithstanding, the speaker seems to be fairly "revealing" - good mixes sound good, and lesser ones sound less good (and I'm able to tell where the latter are lacking). If the speaker had a strong coloration of its own, these differences would likely be obscured.

I'm still enjoying it, and will probably keep it. (Another nice thing about IKEA is that they have a 180 day return policy for opened items.)

Very similar experience (Sonos One Gen2 and Sonos Five). I have not had the chance to listen to the Frame speaker but I look forward to it :)
After 15 years of some pretty intense box swapping, cable management wars (damn you cables) and multiple layers of software (Roon on top of Audio Hijack for different EQ depending on sources etc), I desperately need the promised bliss of Sonos (i.e. Ease of use, discreet looks, good sound). Used to own lots of Sonos gear years ago (Gen 1 Play 5, Connect etc.) but gradually moved to Bluesound and RPi3 solutions. When trying to recreate multiroom solutions with 4+ zones, it gets messy and difficult to manage over time (different interfaces etc.).

Having said that, I just can't get comfortable with the Sonos sound flavour. I purchased two Sonos One Gen2s a few months ago so that I can give them another go. To my ears they sound Bassy-boomy and quite piercing where the cymbal sounds are. Trueplay makes it worse (multiple attempts with multiple phones). Reducing bass via EQ does not help as it seems to affect a frequency area that does not reduce the boom and then it exposes the harshness further up the frequency range. I end up feeling fatigue after 10 mins and turn them off. Yet... soooo many happy customers. I must have busted ears / brain, or both :p
 

bobster

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I purchased two Sonos One Gen2s a few months ago so that I can give them another go. To my ears they sound Bassy-boomy and quite piercing where the cymbal sounds are.

Interesting! If anything, I found the Symfonisk frame to be a little lacking in the high end, and prefer the Sonos One in that regard. I'm sure our differing opinions depend on many factors such as room acoustics and speaker placement, the amount of our respective high-frequency hearing loss, the recordings we listen to, etc.

I returned my Symfonisk frame. The main reason was non-sonic: I decided I didn't want a speaker installed in my bedroom, at least for now. I occasionally have insomnia, and in that case it's better for me to read a book or to go in the other room to watch TV and keep the bedroom for sleeping (as recommended by many sleep specialists). I'm not dogmatic about this - I'll sometimes read or watch video on my iPad in bed, but at least it's not semi-permanently installed.

There was a sonic reason too: the slightly-excessive bass continued to bother me. If I change my mind and decide to try a speaker in the bedroom again, it'll probably be a Sonos One.

I think Sonos' "target sound", if there is one, is fairly good considering the cost, form factor, and convenience. For my little kitchen, it feels downright luxurious. But I wouldn't want to use it for my main listening.
 

NirreFirre

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Phew, 13 pages in one sitting. We (age 7-45) use Sonos since they launched in Sweden ~2010 and I have a few comments.
  • This one looks to be promising when added a bit of classic Ikea hacking to stuff a few rca inputs on the side they will then be tried as rear surrounds on our place. The 4 current Mirage onmipolar ones sits high up on side walls/shelfs and no room behind the sofa.. The groundwork has already been done (https://www.thetylergibson.com/ikea-symfonisk-amp-modification-guide/), the bookshelf version uses a TPA3116 Amp and a TI PCM5102 DAC, the frame's BOM should be similar. Some work to hook an analog input is sure needed but seems straight forward since the datasheets are there. Missing the DSP side could be a big, or small, bummer but..
  • Sonos speakers are good for what they are but not great at reproducing stereo recordings in one's home, for that, we use a 11 year old Sonos ZP80 (more or less identical to the way over priced Port) feeding other stuff.
  • Seems Swedes are fully into DSPed sound (Dirac and Ikea should be the next logical collaboration imho, Sonos of CA could be a good third partner).
 

WaveWobbler

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Honestly, I hope folks in the industry are taking long hard look at this. The measurements for this with an active DSP built in could easily become something we could speak of in the same breath as Revel.

The Trueplay tuning feature offered through the iOS app is basically this simplified down to lifestyle speaker ease of use.

My subjective experience with the feature is with a pair of Symfonisk bookshelf units in the back corners of the living room part of my L-shaped open main floor. The hardwood floors and almost complete lack of soft surfaces normally make for a terribly muddy audio experience with all of the reflections. A round with the Trueplay tuning and all of those reflected frequencies are now compensated by the DSP. Flicking it on and off to compare it goes from unlistenable to clear and subjectively very pleasant to listen to.

Definitely agree with the others here about Sonos’ sonic engineering being on another level from the vast majority of the lifestyle audio products on the market. I really appreciate their overarching goal of working to make audio adapt to fit any space rather than expecting the space to be modified to optimally suit the audio. Overall an excellent option to get all those non-enthusiast friends and family we have into something that’s vastly going to improve their listening experience without running into the any of the complications or friction points of requiring them to change other things just to accommodate the system.
 

maxxevv

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Was looking at some dual-monitor articulated stands.

And a thought came to mind , wonder if anyone has tried mounting these on computer monitor articulated arms ?

And if one doesn't consider the Sonos wireless subwoofer too pricey, pair it up with that.
(I'm assuming that since they all come under the Sonos umbrella, they should work well together on the Sonos wireless App.)

Could possibly be a very compelling and yet space saving desktop or even small living room setup though.
 

marcello252

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I was curious, I tried them with great expectations: absolutely not impressed by the sound, very unbalanced, no stereo image, in my opinion they are good if you look for a big upgrade from a bluetooth boombox, not much more. I think it's ok for the average ikea consumer that doesn't want to compromise the home furniture with ugly black boxes and cable mess (aka normal hi fi systems with speakers), sorry, for my ears and my home thumb down
 

Tangband

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I was curious, I tried them with great expectations: absolutely not impressed by the sound, very unbalanced, no stereo image, in my opinion they are good if you look for a big upgrade from a bluetooth boombox, not much more. I think it's ok for the average ikea consumer that doesn't want to compromise the home furniture with ugly black boxes and cable mess (aka normal hi fi systems with speakers), sorry, for my ears and my home thumb down
You heard right.
The sound is smeared by the near wall placement, with reflections in the treble area that makes everything sound unclear.
With on-wall speakers you trade nonexistance SBIR with high reflections in the tweeter area.

My own conclusion is that SBIR is less worse for the sound, than near reflections in the treble area.
And yes- I have own different inwall loudspeakers in my former house.
 

Thomas_A

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Flush-mounting or in-wall are supported by Genelec.
https://support.genelec.com/hc/en-u...itors-and-how-should-the-wall-be-constructed-

Since there is no physical reason for detrimental reflections from infinite baffels, I do not believe that such reflections exist. These should equally be present on traditional speaker baffles, regardless of design, since any physical area outside the moving part would be responsible for reflection.
 

Tangband

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Flush-mounting or in-wall are supported by Genelec.
https://support.genelec.com/hc/en-u...itors-and-how-should-the-wall-be-constructed-

Since there is no physical reason for detrimental reflections from infinite baffels, I do not believe that such reflections exist. These should equally be present on traditional speaker baffles, regardless of design, since any physical area outside the moving part would be responsible for reflection.
There is no problems whatsoever with inwall or onwall loudspeakers if you do some damping on the wall around the loudspeaker, about 100 *80 cm each. The damping material only needs to take care of the reflections from about 800 Hz and above, thus only need to be 3-4 cm thick.

If you study the work of Ingvar Oehman ( piP , picture below ) and Stig Carlsson ( the elephant-ear ) you can see they both has come to the same conclusion.

If the undamped walls are more than 2 ms away ( about 70 cm or more ) from the loudspeaker, they dont interfere as much with the direct sound of the loudspeaker at high frequencies . The brain/ear and the microphone works very differently.
1F8CEC3E-BF89-4BE8-873D-911093E9FD23.gif
ECA8D669-05A9-4B86-BC6E-AD7757963A4B.jpeg
 
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Thomas_A

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There is no problems whatsoever with inwall or onwall loudspeakers if you do some damping on the wall around the loudspeaker, about 100 *80 cm each. The damping material only needs to damp the reflections from about 800 Hz and above, thus only need to be 3-4 cm thick.

If you study the work of Ingvar Oehman ( piP , picture below ) and Stig Carlsson ( the elephant-ear ) you can see they both has come to the same conclusion.

If the undamped walls are more than 2 ms away ( about 70 cm or more ) from the loudspeaker, they dont interfere as much with the direct sound of the loudspeaker at high frequencys . The brain/ears and microphone works very differently.View attachment 150434View attachment 150435

With respect to the Carlsson, there is no real speaker baffle above the tweeter sitting at an angle close to the wall, which makes damping beneficial. Also a smaller bookshelf speaker may radiate significant amount from the lower range of the tweeter passband (as well as LF of course). A flat speaker like the IKEA with its tweeter in the center of a larger baffle plate is a different matter.

http://www.linkwitzlab.com/diffraction.htm

There are tons of different reasons for subjectively not liking a sound of a speaker. So I am not convinced.
 

Tangband

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With respect to the Carlsson, there is no real speaker baffle above the tweeter sitting at an angle close to the wall, which makes damping beneficial. Also a smaller bookshelf speaker may radiate significant amount from the lower range of the tweeter passband (as well as LF of course). A flat speaker like the IKEA with its tweeter in the center of a larger baffle plate is a different matter.

http://www.linkwitzlab.com/diffraction.htm

There are tons of different reasons for subjectively not liking a sound of a speaker. So I am not convinced.

I really wanted this Ikea loudspeaker to sound good, but it did not. It would have been a nice tv-loudspeaker. In my view, the Ikea Eneby 20 ( which I own ) and Eneby 30 sounds a lot better.

However, I dont want to be critical against those who like the sound , sound quality is ofcourse a very personal thing.
And this speaker don´t cost much.
My comparison and reference are my Genelecs with digital input.
 
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