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Are the new Symfonisk bookshelf and table lamp speakers the best inexpensive wireless speakers?
Full disclosure: I'm not an audio-nerd. I'm the person that streams my Spotify through my AppleTV to play it on my 32-inch non-surround sound TV during parties. I do have my dad's old component stereo system, but I also find it tiresome to constantly get up and flip the record over. (How did I survive such short plays as a kid?!) Ive also been known to use a Bluetooth speaker I picked up on points from Shoppers Drug Mart. Take this info as you will.
That said, I was pretty intrigued by the new Sonos and Ikea-designed wifi speaker system, Symfonisk. They clock in at a lower price point than the entry-level Sonos Play:1 (about $199 at Best Buy, vs $149 for Ikea's bookshelf speakerthough the table lamp speaker will set you back $249). Theyre intended to pull double-duty: the bookshelf speaker can convert to a wall-mounted shelf or nightstand, the table lamp is, well, a table lamp. Do you need a speaker to do anything more than sound great? Perhaps not, but It's a clever concept.
Ive tested both the bookshelf speaker and the lamp for a couple of weeks now, and as a system, the Sonos concept has grown on me. Wifi speakers operate on your home internet system rather than just Bluetooth-ing off of your phone, and Sonos in particular works off of its proprietary Sonos app. Upsidephone calls can still be answered without disrupting the music. Downside: you've restricted to using Sonos-approved streaming systems. So you'll find Spotify, Audible and SiriusXM among their services, but not Amazon Music or Overdrive, for example. You also cant use these as an extra speaker for boosting Netflix on your iPad.
The steaming interface isnt perfect, either. You'll catch your main playlists from Spotify via the Sonos app, but features like Daily Mix don't show up (though you can work around this by turning those Mixes into a playlist). And if you’re using your iPhone to operate the system and youve got an Apple TV or other AirPlay-capable non-Sonos devices in your household with AirPlay enabled, you won't be able to operate the apppause or skip a song, for examplefrom a locked phone screen (a mild annoyance, but an irritation nonetheless).
That said, there are some cool features. If youve got two speakers in separate roomsin my case, the Symfonisk bookshelf speaker in my bedroom and the table lamp speaker in my living roomthe system allows you to play the same track simultaneously by grouping them together, or you can opt to have different tracks playing on each (a little mood music for the bedroom, something more party-central for the living room). And if you've on an iOS system, you can also TruePlay the speakers: a perhaps gimmicky set up that involves you walking around the room with your iPhone while a series of tones plays from the speaker, allowing it to tune itself to the size and shape of your room.
And I'm enjoying instantly getting music going wherever I am in my apartmentthe speakers are always onas soon as I flip to the app on my phone. The sound is warm and full (yes, I recognize It's seriously superior to my Shoppers Bluetooth number), and a good gateway into the Sonos system as a whole. Design-wise, the Symfonisk lamp is a nice addition to my reading corner, if a little lo-fi on the design front. The bookshelf speaker feels a little large for a modern speaker, yet a little small for a wall-hung side tablebut makes up for it on the sound front.
Quirks to the system aside, I'm a new fan.
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