Sonos and IKEA announced Thursday a partnership that brings Sonos speakers to the market at a lower price than we’ve seen before. Sonos has long been a staple in the smart home – perhaps the beginning of the smart home for many of us – with their speakers that “fill your home with music”, taking care of the audible elements of our homes. IKEA, similarly, helps us with the visual (and functional!) elements of our homes with their furniture. The two have teamed up to bring both of those mindsets together with IKEA’s SYMFONISK line up, and the result brings about a pricing twist that really benefits consumers and fans of the two platforms with Sonos speakers now available for less than US$100.
SYMFONISK In a New Shell
First up in the SYMFONISK family are a bookshelf speaker and table lamp (which has a speaker in its base). Both are full-fledged members of the Sonos family, both are AirPlay 2-enabled, and both have some design choices that might give long-time Sonos watchers pleasantly-raised eyebrows.
The first thing Sonos customers will notice is that this is very much an IKEA design. That’s not a bad thing, but it is a different thing. The speaker grills are a cloth mesh, and the grill on the bookshelf speaker can be removed and replaced to change design aesthetics. The controls for the bookshelf speaker are only on the front, which gives you placement flexibility, including the option to put it inside IKEA shelving where all sides except the front are obscured from view.
The lamp is a completely different beast. It’s got separate controls for the light bulb and the speaker, and only the speaker controls are “smart” and Wi-Fi accessible. The lone “dial” control for the lightbulb turns it on or off. This, of course, could be used with a smart bulb (IKEA sells their Tradfri line) if you want to integrate that portion into your home. Otherwise it’s just a normal lamp (LED only, says the housing), with a bulging base that contains a speaker very similar to a PLAY:1.
Democratizing The Price of Sonos
Perhaps the most important aspect of this partnership is that it allows Sonos the freedom to experiment in the market with prices that might not otherwise seem “on brand” for them: the bookshelf speaker will sell for just US$99. That’s right, folks, a sub-$100 Sonos speaker. The table lamp, too, is aggressively priced at US$179. Both of those are less than the current $199 sticker price of a Sonos PLAY:1, the previously lowest-priced member of the Sonos family.
To adapt a term from another smart home company making waves with aggressively-priced technology today, these price points really help to “democratize” Sonos. You can start for just $99 and get a fantastic speaker for a small room. You could buy two of the bookshelf speakers for $198 and have a stereo pair. You could take that stereo pair and add it to your existing Sonos Beam to use as rear surrounds. Two table lamps will pair in the same ways, too, adding some interesting visual design options to your home theater and beyond.
At these prices, the cost of entry into the Sonos world has dropped dramatically, allowing more people to elevate the quality of every day life and, as Sara Morris, Sonos Product Manager says, “think about sound as part of the design of their homes.”
I’m a sound snob. I want music in every part of my home, and I want it to sound good. Plus, I want it easy for everyone in my family to use without thinking about it. For these obvious reasons, Sonos has been a part of my home for almost eight years now.
These new IKEA speakers sound like Sonos speakers because they are Sonos speakers. Both are fully-integrated into the Sonos platform, both can be automatically tuned with your iPhone using Sonos’s TruePlay technology, and both are able to fill an appropriately-sized room with sound.
The bookshelf speaker is the most impressive, simply because at that $99 price point, nothing before has existed that can do this. It’s almost an impulse purchase, and when you get it home, it sounds great. The bookshelf speaker can be stood up on end or laid flat, and we found it had a fuller sound standing up in our test environments. The bass resonator in it works to give a good, full sound, and I would imagine that two of them could fill a moderately-sized bedroom or maybe even a small living room. One of them is perfect for the kitchen. At this price point, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some of these appearing in college dorm rooms or apartments.
The SYMFONISK Table Lamp goes a little further, and really has that same sound signature as the Sonos One, with a full, bouncy bass response. For $179, that’s a first!
Coming August 1, 2019
Keep on the lookout for these. If you’ve got Sonos in your home already, this is a great way to add more. If you haven’t yet opened your doors to Sonos, here’s a very affordable way to do exactly that, while adding some style in the process! Both come in black or white and should be available to order from IKEA on August 1, 2019.