Today’s music consumers want more than just quality sound out of their headphones. The launch of Beats by Dre headphones back in 2006 ushered in the “fashion headphone” era, and seven years later the trend has yet to show signs of slowing down. The vast growth of fashion headphones shows that consumers appreciate a product that delivers good sound while also complementing their style. However, as the celebrity endorsements piled up and the designs became more abstract (not to mention prices now easily hitting $400), space has opened up for a more refined and affordable line of headphones.
The iLuv ReF headphones are here to fill that space.
iLuv was founded in 2006 as an iPod accessory company, but over the years the company has expanded their line of products to encompass many different areas of consumer electronics. Calling upon its New York City roots, iLuv has created audio products under their “Fashionology” motto, a portmanteau of fashion and technology. “Sound Good, Look Good, Feel Good” is the Fashionology ethos, and iLuv crafts its audio products by focusing equally on what’s inside (the audio engineering) and what’s outside (the fashion driven design). The ReF line of headphones is iLuv’s premium audio product under their Fashionology motto.
First, let’s take a look at the audio engineering inside. Along with the standard neodymium driver comes a titanium plate designed to deliver extra bass, with a total frequency range from 20 to 20,000 Hertz. My set (the iHP635) also includes a microphone and Apple compatible in-line remote.
Next, let’s take a look at the design of the ReF headphones. The ReF line is available in eight different colors, ranging from the refined navy blue that I have to a vibrant bright yellow, and many in between. The design is minimalist while remaining fashion forward, which is good news for individuals who are stylish but like to stay grounded.
Build quality is high, especially the textured fabric headband, which is a pleasant surprise for a set of headphones that is quite collapsible. The on-ear cover is made from a smooth and comfortable leather that keeps your ears happy for a few hours. If you listen for 4+ consecutive hours, though, your ears may start to get a bit sore, but that’s fairly standard for on-ear headphones. One thing that is a bit unusual for the ReF headphones is that the cable is attached to the right driver, which is opposite of the near universal left.
When it comes to headphones, the most important factor is sound quality. Since their debut, fashion branded headphones have had a reputation for pumping in bass at the expense of a more balanced sound. iLuv themselves markets the ReFs as having “deep bass”, and they are correct, but the ReFs have a more balanced sound than other fashion headphones like Beats by Dre or Soul by Ludacris. However, the sound can sometimes be a bit muddy depending on what music genre you are listening to. The ReFs pick up the staccato high range kicks and low bass hits of trap music very well, but blended vocals and instrumentation- basically your mid-range frequencies – sound distant and need a bit more clarity.
Overall, the ReF on-ear headphones by iLuv are a good buy for those of you who want deep bass (but not earth shattering, blow out your eardrums bass) with your music, a very fashionable design, and would rather save two Benjamins and buy some sweet kicks to match your headphones. Because at a price of only $99.99, you’re saving at least $200 over the cheapest on-ear Beats by Dre. Plus you’ll be saving your eardrums, and you really can’t put a price on that.
iLuv ReF On-Ear Headphones – $95.92