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One product that encompasses both the Apple and non-Apple offerings is the iLuv ReF™ range of on-ear headphones. The ReF™ is the first range of products to be created as part of the company’s Fashionology® collection. Fashionology® is an attempt to bring together a meld of fashion and technology so that appearance matches performance.
The ReF™ is available in two versions either for Smartphones (iHP636) and Apple devices (iHP635) in a choice of black, white, navy or red. My sample, on which this review is based, was for Smartphones and of a navy hue. The colour element used in this headphone unit is restricted to the canvas covering of the outside face of the ear pads and the top of the headband. White stitching is used on the canvas elements to help highlight this particular feature.
As part of the Fashionology® concept, the ReF™ has been designed in New York using, what is described as, a contemporary Manhattan style. One aspect of the Manhattan styling that was immediately obvious was the size of this headset. Maybe residents of the Manhattan area of New York have a smaller head size then mine because I found that the ReF™ was only just large enough to fit on my head. I should add that I do not consider my head, unlike my stomach, to be particular large.
Even with the thick wired attached extenders fully pulled out, the ear pads only just managed to cover my ears. This fitting was with the unit’s headband pressed against the top of my head and was not particularly comfortable. What was not helping was the lack of sufficient padding built into the headband. It looks as if the headband relies solely on the canvas covering to provide padding.
The same criticism could not be applied to the ear pads with regards to comfort. Incidentally the ear pads are labelled “L” and “R” to help make sure you place the headphones the correct way round. Providing plenty of comfort are soft breathable protein cushions covering both ears. The concept behind using breathable covering is that your ears should not get too warm during the warm, and the occasional hot, summer months. Due to time restrictions I was unable to test this aspect of the headphones.
Arranged beneath the cushioned element of each earpiece is a combination of a titanium covered diaphragm, a dustproof net, plate, yoke, NdFeB magnet and an acoustic chamber. While the diaphragm provides the dynamic range, mega bass and treble aspects of the audio, the acoustic chamber’s task is to deliver the audio to your ears.
Emerging from the right earpiece is a 120cm connection lead that ends in an L-shaped 3.5mm jack plug. This means that this headphone unit can be used with any audio device that has a standard 3.5mm connection socket. Positioned approximately 15cm from the top of this lead is a press-button switch that comes into its own when the headphones are attached to certain devices. Some others will totally ignore its existence.
This button, which is actually a SpeakEZ remote, has been designed to be compatible with many smartphones and Apple devices by allowing you to switch between music listening and taking phone calls. However this feature does not work with every device. When attached to a Motorola Smartphone, Blackberry device or an Apple iPod Touch, pressing the button would stop the incoming music, thus allowing access from a second stream such as a phone call. A second press on the button would then restart the music from where it left off. Connecting the headphones to a Lumia Smartphone and various Android tablets had no effect whatsoever when pressing the button.
When not being used for listening to music or other tasks, the ReF™ can be collapsed. Each of the earpieces can be folded inwards so that less room is taken up when storing the headphones. It would have been appreciated if iLuv had included a bag for holding the headphones in its collapsed state but unfortunately this was not so.
The audio quality delivered by this headphone unit was fine. Unfortunately, as I have already stated, wearing these headphones was not particularly comfortable. A couple of music tracks was about all I could manage before having to remove the ReF™ in order to remove the pressure on the top of my head and give my ears a rest. Both the Smartphone and Apple versions of this product have been priced at £79.99.
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