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iLuv ReF Headphones: Stylish and Affordable, But How’s the Sound?

aNewDomain.net — When I’m shopping for headphones — or reviewing them — I look for three main attributes: build, comfort and quality of sound.

I reviewed the iLuv ReF Deep Bass On-Ear Headphones on each of those factors. Here’s my in-depth review on that three-fold score, and on whether they’re a  good choice for A/V environments, calls and sound testing.
iLuv ReF Deep Bass On-Ear Headphones

Image Credits: Sandy Berger

My takeaway. These headphones offered excellent sound quality, design and comfort — and they offer a lot of bang for the buck.

Let’s start with style …

iLuv included a special, often overlooked feature for this on-ear headphone — a cool industrial design. These iLuv ReF headphones are quite the fashion statement.

iLuv sells the headphones in eight different colors, each with a canvas exterior and contrast stitching. They’re the most stylish headphones I’ve seen. Models are available in orange, blue, lime, red, yellow, navy, white and black.

I love vibrant colors, so I was at first slightly disappointed with my navy blue review unit. But then I noticed the white stitching really off set the dark color, and that gave them a retro feel I liked.  They also matched my jeans. Big points to iLuv on the style front.

And then there’s design …

The headphones themselves are sturdy and well built. The size adjustment sliders are made of durable metal. According to the specs, the ear cups are made of Korean protein leather. Read here to find out more about that tanning process. It’s marketese, mostly, but I will say those cups are soft. Incredibly soft.

The headphones collapse easily, making the set ultra portable. And there’s a nice faux suede lining under the headband.

If there’s a drawback, it’s that I found the headphones to be tight around the ear. That’s an issue — especially if you aren’t careful to note the L and R markings on the headphone cups. Still, the headphones were comfortable to my fit over a long listening stretch.

The tight fit offers a bonus, I should add. The headphones aren’t officially rated as noise-cancelling, but that tight fit blocks out a lot of extraneous noise. That was nice.

iLuve ReF Headphones Navy Blue

I should note another neat industrial design feature on these headphones —  the cord. It’s covered in a braided cloth,  the same denim fabric on the earpieces. So it’s color-coordinated and tangle-free, too.

The plug is a 3.5 mm gold-plated “L”. The cord has in-line remote play/pause, volume, and track change controls.

The cord also has a microphone so you can talk on the phone through the headphones. In my testing, calls came through well. Totally unencumbered by all that denim.

Please note that there are two different models of this headphone:

  • iHP-635, made specifically for Apple devices
  • iHP-636, made for all other mobile devices.

Sound Quality — the Key Point

Of course, sound quality is the most important spec on a new set of headphones, and iLuv didn’t skimp in this regard.

Included with the package are 40mm titanium speaker drivers. These deliver rich sound with good clarity. Although they are called “dynamic bass” headphones, I did not find the bass too overwhelming. I usually dislike headphones in which the bass is overly magnified.

High ranges were a bit muddy at ultra high volumes, but at normal volumes, clarity was fine. The headphones operate on 20-20kHz frequencies and have 114dB sensitivity.

The iLuv iHP-635 and 636 headphone sell for $99 at the iLuv website. There is a lot of competition in the headphone market at that price bracket.

I found these headphones to be more than adequate — for me. Everyone’s ears are different. Try before you buy. In fact, try the exact phones you’re buying before you take them home. Models vary.

But even with that said, when it comes to bang-for-the-buck quality, iLuv headphones are an all-around good deal. And they’re stylish as all get out.

Based in Pinehurst, North Carolina, Sandy Berger is a veteran tech journalist and senior editor at aNewDomain.net covering tech tips and tricks, apps, gadgets, and consumer electronics. Email her at Sandy@aNewDomain.net. Follow her on Twitter @sandyberger+SandyBerger on Google+, and on Facebook.

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