Given the popularity of the iPhone and the iPod, it's no wonder we're seeing more and more earphones with integrated mics and controls for the devices. Of course, those who have recently purchased either one may not be eager to throw down even more cash to replace the earphones that come in the package. On the plus side, there are plenty of models available for $50 or less, which is relatively cheap in the scheme of headphones with integrated controls. The iLuv iEP515 earphones fall into this area with an MSRP of $49.99, though one can easily find them for less than $40 online. While we have no major complaints about this set of earphones, there's really nothing that makes them stand out as a great choice, either. It's simple: they'll do.
The iLuv iEP515 earphones have some of the largest earpieces we've come across in a while, measuring nearly 1 inch long and about a half-inch in diameter. The bulbous design makes it difficult--if not impossible--for a small-eared person to get a secure or comfortable fit, despite the array of silicone tips iLuv includes in the package. However, we are sort of keen on the fact that the earpieces are encased in clear plastic, allowing a glimpse of the inner design. Anyone with a bit of techie inside should appreciate this design feature.
Descending from the iEP515 earpieces are thin, black cables that join together in a staggered (or asymmetrical) Y design. That is, the right side is longer so as to be looped around the back of the head, a handy feature for active users. All in all, the cable is quite thin and appears to be fairly tangle-prone. Also, the cord terminates in a reinforced straight-plug, but the housing isn't flexible and it looks like the cable could easily be damaged at that connection. In other words, durability is a concern.
At the Y junction, iLuv has integrated a control module with a mic. There are two keys for adjusting volume and a larger, central button that answers calls. For iPhone and iPod users, this button can also serve to play or pause music as well as skip forward or backward through tracks. The module works with the iPhone's Voice Control and with the iPod Shuffle's Voice Over feature.
The iLuv iEP515 offers up sound quality that is not offensive, but the fact that we had to push the earbuds uncomfortably into our ears to hear any bass is a downfall. A tester who has larger ears couldn't get the seal necessary to experience the low-end sound. Even then, bass was loose and mushy, though nicely encompassing--certain listeners might take to it. Mids sounded thin and nasally to our ears, and though really jamming the earphones in improved this a bit, there still was none of the richness we crave. We could hear a fair amount of definition on the high end, but it was far from the brightest or crispest we've experienced. In the end, the iLuv iEP515 strikes us not good or bad, but just OK.