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iLuv IEP426BLK Earbuds

Price: $70.16
List Price: $99.99
You save: $29.83 (30%)

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Review of the iLuv IEP426BLK Earbuds, made by Acoustic Research

(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you want a hardcopy)


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These are similar to the IEP425 earbuds (for MP3 players) that I reviewed earlier. The difference is that these are made for the current generation of smartphones.

I don't have a current generation smartphone. I do have a PocketPC that I stopped using in 2012. I just don't have a need to carry around a tracking device that tells NSA my whereabouts and that enables anybody to interrupt me wherever I am and whatever I am doing.

Still, I wanted to review these. The PocketPc and my cordless phone have the same earphone jack, so I presumed these earbuds would fit the phone I do use. No such luck. Today's smartphones apparently have a larger jack. The plug simply is too large for the jack on my phone. It does fit my MP3 player, so I tested it there.

The sound is superb. I don't know about the microphone's sound quality, but I can tell you the mic is properly positioned. I have used other earbud with mic sets that position the mic incorrectly. So, this is an important consideration.

The earbud tips don't fit. See notes below.

There is no instruction manual, so anyone not familiar with the inline controls on smartphone earbuds will just have to wing it. There is no instruction manual, so anyone not familiar with the inline controls on smartphone earbuds will just have to wing it. I wasn't able to test the controls on a phone, because the jack doesn't fit my phone. I tested on my MP3 player, instead. What I thought might be a volume control had no effect. It's a pushbutton on the microphone nacelle. I'm guessing it's a mute button. Pushing it made no difference. Holding it down made no difference.

As noted above, these are similar to the IEP425 I also reviewed. So similar, that it makes sense to pull from that review the applicable comments for this one. Here they are:

The process of appreciation begins with the packaging. With most consumer products, you need a freshly-sharpened chainsaw and the Jaws of Life to open the package. Apparently, the companies who do this to their hapless customers don't consider the fact that people might actually want to use what's inside that impenetrable packaging.

The folks at iLuv took a different approach. The cellophane wrapping actually slides off. You just fold it back a little and pull. It's obvious that you do this, simply because of the shape of the wrapper. Next, you're looking at a box with a pull-out handle. What could be easier?

The bud tips are in recessed holes in a tray, and it's easy to pop them out individually. I do mean individually; popping one out does not cause the rest of them to fly out and immediately be lost forever. The difference is the tray is a soft material, instead of that hard plastic that just about everyone else uses.

The earbuds themselves, instead of being packaged so that only a brain surgeon could remove them without damaging the cords, are merely taped with a single strand of cellophane tape. A simple tug on the tape, and they are free.

Upon handling the earbud set, I noticed the cords have an unusual texture. My usual experience with earbuds is the cords tangle into knots that I, as an experienced climber, find hard to undo. I've often wondered if I should ask the manufacturers of these to send me a set made with climbing rope so I don't have to teach new climbers how to tie their knots; really strong knots are made automatically. But then the prospect of untying those makes me change my mind.

It seemed to me that the jacket on the cord would prevent tangling. I tried my darndest to make it tangle. I rolled it up, twisted it around, and even put it in my pocket. For the acid test, I did what leads to the gnarliest of knots in my other earbud cords. I just let it sit there unattended for a couple of hours. No knots!

Unfortunately, the earbuds kept falling out. No problem, I thought. Just find a tip that fits. I tried all the tips that came with it, and could not solve this problem. I even put them on backwards (something I have not tried, before) to see if that would work. Nope. Could not get any sort of decent fit with these earbuds.

Next, I took the tips off another set of earbuds and put them on these. That solved the fit problem. In looking at the tips that came with these, I see their shoulder chambering has a steeper angle compared to the other tips in my rather large collection of earbud tips. There's just not enough material in the contact area to provide the needed grip.

It seems to me that if a set of earbuds retails for a hundred bucks then they ought to fit. This failure to fit changed my five-star impression to a three-star impression. The problem is solved by dropping $15 on a cheap set of earbuds, removing the tips, tossing the cheaper earbuds, and using the tips that came with it on these. A better solution would be for iLuv to make tips that actually work.

A small case comes with this earbud set, and it's perfect for carrying these around (along with the tips salvaged from other earbuds).



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