Design & Details

First Look at The New IKEA + Teenage Engineering Collaboration

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Frekvens is a set of Bluetooth speakers, lights, and accessories that was just released by IKEA in collaboration with Swedish boutique tech firm Teenage Engineering. The company is positioning the series as a perfect party set but it goes beyond that. 


Packaging Design

All IKEA items usually come in craft color sturdy corrugated boxes and Frekvens system is not an exception. In this case, each box panel features a one-color graphic print to reveal what’s inside. The front of the box says “Design teenage engineering”.

A colored sticker signifies the versions of the accessory colors inside
Each box panel features a one-color graphic print to reveal what’s inside.

Components

This concept is a lot of fun but it proves extremely confusing when trying to pick the parts in the store. Plus, as of my purchase in early January, there were no buying guides or promotional leaflets to explain which parts does one actually need to buy.

  • The speakers (pocket speaker, regular speaker, and speaker + subwoofer set)
  • The lights (bulb box and LED panel box)
  • Light cover pack
  • Additional accessories: light stand and side table
The core components of the series are the speakers & lights
The manual for speaker + subwoofer
The diagram on the right demonstrates how to make the speaker wireless with a battery pack (more details below)

The only helpful page from the manual with the spect of the speakers

One of the core concepts behind Frekvens is its modular design — the idea that every speaker and light can be attached to each other in equal 4×4 inch mounting pins. In fact – every single side of every piece has special holes to insert the pins – which technically makes Frekvens infinitely modular.

All core parts of both speakers and lights are made of extremely high-density black matte plastic. If you’ve ever touched a Teenage Engineering product, you’ll find the materials familiar. The body does leave some fingerprints but they are quite easy to clean.


Unlike the typical IKEA tradition to hide all branding from the items, Frekvens speakers have IKEA logo on the front set in a monospace typeface
Metal clips holding the speaker and the subwoofer together
The only pops of color on the body of the speakers are in the back, pointing at the line in and line out 3.5 mm ports + the blue “on” button.
Although there’s technically an on/off button on the back of the speaker, the only physical interface element on the front panel is a volume knob. The knob rotates freely 360 degrees.

Set up and use

Frekvens features Bluetooth v4.2 and pairs easily with any phone or computer. The speaker can automatically store and connect up to 8 devices. Since it has a line-in port in the back, you can hook up any 3.5mm jack device like an MP3 player or TV to use it as an external speaker (when you do that, Bluetooth automatically shuts off). The Bluetooth range is around 30 ft.

The speaker + subwoofer has a capability to be wireless too (up to 8 hours on a charge). You’ll need IKEA’s standard ENEBY battery pack for the subwoofer and BRAUNIT battery pack for the speaker.

Sound quality

Powering the sound are a 5.25-inch and a 3-inch woofer as well as 0.75” soft dome tweeter. The sound is detailed and crisp across all ranges, especially the high ranges. Listening to “Rest” by Charlotte Gainsbourg I was really impressed by the subwoofer — it’s almost too powerful for the device (luckily there’s a manual know to tweak the power of the subwoofer). An instrumental track by Nils Frahm really shows the limits of the stereo capabilities of Frekvens — while the lows, mids, and highs are all crisp and accurate, there’s simply not enough ambiance to the track. This would have been fixed if there was a second speaker set paired to create a stereo sound but so far it’s unclear if IKEA will support this feature.

A knob to set the subwoofer power output

Lights

To spice up the party, Teenage Engineering designed a set of 2 lights, one in the shape of the bulb, the other — an LED panel. Both react directly to the music played with a built-in sen of audio sensors.

The back of the LED panel light — the yellow button changes the modes of the light (see below)
Each light can be powered independently
Or, back to the concept of modularity — up to 6 lights can be hooked together with a special connecting cable and only one power supply
A special stand included in the accessory kit points the light at 45-degree angle
There are 2 light caps included in the accessory kit

Where to buy

I accidentally discovered Frekvens collection the day it was set up at the Paramus, NJ IKEA location. At the time of this review early January 2020, it was not clear if other stores carry the collections. It was also not available online.

Frekvens display at IKEA Paramus in the lighting area of the store

Designer & photographer based in New York City