iLuv iHP636 ReF headphone review: Strong bass and design, but short on clarity

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
  • Overall: 6.6
  • Design: 8.0
  • Features: 7.0
  • Sound quality: 6.0
  • Value: 6.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The iLuv iHP636 ReF is well built, offers a comfortable fit for an on-ear model, and includes an Apple-friendly remote/microphone and a tangle-resistant fabric covered cord.

The Bad Sound could be cleaner and more refined.

The Bottom Line While iLuv ReF headphone has a lot of pluses, including a sturdy, comfortable design, strong bass, and an Apple-friendly inline remote/microphone, it falls short in the clarity department.

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If you look up the iLuv iHP636 ReF on Amazon, you'll notice that its full, extended name includes the descriptor "Deep Bass On-Ear Headphones with Canvas Fabric Exterior for Smartphones."

It would seem, then, that this headphone has been designed to offer a lot of bass -- and that it certainly does. It's also comfortable for an on-ear model, with nicely cushioned earcups and a foldable design. The only problem with it is that it falls short in the clarity department, which keeps it from being a really good headphone.

Design and features
The ReF, available in multiple colors, is a bit of a riff on a common design you've probably seen for on-ear models. Urban Ears made it popular, and several other companies have offered modified versions of it.

That said, this model does have a more premium quality to it, with -- yes -- canvas fabric on the earcups and the headband; also, there's some faux suede on the interior of the headband. As I said, the earcups are nicely padded (iLuv says there's Memory Foam inside, even if it doesn't quite feel like it) and offer a tight seal, which helps muffle ambient noise. The headphones do fold up, though not flat.

The earcups are nicely padded. Sarah Tew/CNET

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Nov. 12, 2012
  • Color black
  • Sound Output Mode stereo
  • Additional Features L-shaped plug
  • Type headset
  • Headphones Form Factor ear-cup
  • Connector Type mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm 4-pole
About The Author

Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable e-reader and e-publishing expert. He's also the author of the novels Knife Music and The Big Exit. Both titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, and Nook e-books.