iLuv iHP636 ReF headphone review:

Strong bass and design, but short on clarity

The headphones fold up. Sarah Tew/CNET

One side note on the design: Lately, iLuv's been doing a good job with the designs of its products; they're sleeker and more eye-catching. And even though it's gradually inching into more premium territory as a brand, the problem is that people still tend to associate it as a value brand. So I'm not sure abut the allure of stitching the company's logo prominently onto each earcup. For some buyers, that might be a negative.

The Apple-friendly three-button inline remote. Sarah Tew/CNET

Sound quality
As noted, the ReF is a bass-heavy headphone. It sounds decent enough, but just isn't terribly tight or clean sounding. I don't expect too much from headphones that cost less than $100 -- while the list price on these guys is $129.99, they go for significantly less online -- but the ReF lacks sparkle in the highs and midrange. I'm all for more laid-back, warm-sounding headphones, so having too much sparkle -- I refer to these as fast, bright headphones -- isn't good. But I was hoping the ReF would be a bit more detailed and have a bit more punch to it.

The earcups are canvas covered. Sarah Tew/CNET

There's a lot to like about the iLuv ReF. It seems 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. It also delivers a lot of bass, but its sound overall could be more refined. There's a lot of competition in the $75-to-$100 price range (see a full list of our best headphones under $100 here), so just being decent isn't necessarily good enough anymore.

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