iLuv City Lights in-ear headphones review: Lots of bass, little clarity for seven bucks

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.4
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 6.0
  • Sound quality: 5.0
  • Value: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The iLuv City Lights in-ear headphones are comfortable, attractive looking, and seem to be built reasonably well for their ultralow price tag. They also pump out a lot of bass.

The Bad Their high-end (treble) performance is lackluster, so they lack clarity; no inline remote/microphone for making cell-phone calls.

The Bottom Line For around $7, the iLuv City Lights are well-designed budget earphones, but they push the bass a little too hard at the expense of clarity.

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In my quest to review budget in-ear earphones, I've managed to dig up some very good products for less than $10, including the Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 and the JVC Gumy Plus. Next up on the list: iLuv's iEP322BLK City Lights earphones, which have received very favorable reviews on Amazon.

The City Lights have a similar design to both the Panasonic and the JVC, but this is a more bass-heavy earphone that's got some thump to it. I didn't like it as much as its more natural and balanced-sounding competitors, but if bigger bass is what you're after, you'll certainly get a lot of it for your money with this earphone.

Design and features
Like the ErgoFit RP-HJE120 and Gumy Plus, these are sort of hybrid earphones; part hard earbud like your basic Apple earbud and part soft bud. For all I know, they're all made in the same factory in China.

This model is available in several different color options and comes with three different-size pairs of silicone eartips. At this price, you're more apt to see hard-bud earphones, but being able to jam the soft tips into your ears helps with sound isolation and maximizes the bass output.

The City Lights are available in multiple colors. Sarah Tew/CNET

The City Lights are equipped with 13.5mm "Mega Bass" drivers, which would explain why its housing is a bit larger than the ErgoFit RP-HJE120, which has 9mm drivers.

While the iLuvs are comfortable and stayed in my ears well, I liked the fit of the Panasonics and JVCs a touch better.

The cord is somewhat tangle-resistant. Sarah Tew/CNET

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Where to Buy

iLuv City Lights (Black)

Part Number: IEP322BLK Released: Feb 23, 2011

MSRP: $19.99

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb 23, 2011
  • Color black
  • Additional Features gold plated connectors
  • Type headphones
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Headphones Form Factor in-ear
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm