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Earphones are a personal thing. Everyone has different criteria for what makes a good set. Some might be looking for bass, others might be more interested in noise reduction. Certain people might only be interested in ’phones that come in standard-issue “iPod white,” while someone else is looking for something a bit more interesting, color-wise.
iLuv’s i203 and iEP311 earphones are both in-ear models that help dampen outside noise—and they come in a rainbow of nine different shades. Both models ship with three pairs of soft rubber tips in small, medium, and large. In terms of noise reduction, we found that the iEP311’s flanged ear tips provided slightly more sound isolation than the ones on the i203. Both models also feature a (somewhat bulky) rotary volume dial, a handy feature for people who usually listen with their iPod stashed in a coat pocket, purse, or man-bag. The volume controls feature a clip on the back for easy access, but in both cases, the control is located about halfway up the earphone cord. Using the ’phones while we were sitting was fine, but in use with our iPod while commuting to work, the placement of the volume knob was less convenient—we wished it was much closer to the earbuds themselves. And while the volume control is nice, neither model offers track controls.
In terms of sound quality, there isn’t much to complain about, given the modest price point. Audiophile gear these are not, but as an upgrade to the standard Apple earbuds, they add a nice bass punch. The i203s feature ear clips to keep them in place, great for people looking for something that works well while running or working out. iEP311, on the other hand, are much more compact, and they sounded a bit clearer, with brighter treble than the other pair. The 311s also come with a “wire reel” for taming unruly cables, but with the volume knob in the middle of the cable, wrapping the cable to shorten it is awkward at best.
REQUIREMENTS: iPod or other device with 3.5mm audio jack.
In-line volume control. Ear clips good for running while listening.
Treble is slightly muffled. No controls for pausing or skipping tracks. Volume knob is bulky and in odd location.