Soul Glow: iHome Glowtunes iB37 Headphones

iHome GlowTunes iB37
The iHome GlowTunes iB37 headphones literally adds color to your music listening experience with built-in LED lighting. iHome

With more than 56,000 companies competing for the honor of earning a spot on consumers’ noggins, it’s no wonder that some headphone manufacturers try to up the ante when it comes to distinguishing features.

In fact, it reminds me a bit of WWE wrestlers, with several headphones featuring their own line of gimmicks. Some go for geek sensibilities, such as the SMS Audio Star Wars First Edition and Second Edition cans, for example. Others go for extra stickability such as the SOUL Electronics Pulse Fitness. Then you’ve got earphones designed to perform swimmingly in water such as the BlueAnt Pump HD.

Then again, given the $2 billion in revenue generated by the industry each year, according to market research company IBISWorld, it’s really no wonder that some try to up the ante when it comes to distinguishing features. One of the latest such gadgets to enter the ring is the iHome GlowTunes iB37 headphones.

Four Color-Changing Modes

As its name implies, the iB37’s claim to fame is its use of colors. I’m talking more colors than a pair of Randy “Macho Man” Savage tights. To achieve this, iHome resorts to LED lights that cycle through the full spectrum of colors to let users taste the rainbow, so to speak. This includes four color-changing modes comprising of full spectrum cycling, strobe, pulse and sticking to your favorite color. Lighting can last up to 24 hours, after which you’ll need to recharge the iB37 via its microUSB port. The headphones can be used regardless whether the lights are charged or not.

The iB37 itself is quite light — it’s easily one of the lightest full-size headphones I’ve ever tried, making it especially portable and ideal for extended use during trips. On-ear headphones usually cause soreness after a while but the iB37’s leatherette cups performed quite well as far as comfort goes. Its cable, meanwhile, includes a remote that syncs with your phone or tablet, allowing users to pause, play and skip tracks as well as answer calls thanks to its built-in microphone. The cable also uses a flat form factor, which helps prevent tangling.

Surprisingly Good Audio

Audio performance is surprisingly good for a budget headphone. The iB37 provides clean audio with nice balance across the board, including enough bass without being too overpowering. It’s not at the level of more expensive headphones such as the V-Moda Crossfade M-100 or the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 for sure but it’s pretty solid for $50 headphones. The iB37 also comes with limited noise isolation though not at the level of dedicated noise cancelling cans such as the Turtle Beach Ear Force i30.

Granted, the GlowTunes iB37 comes with its share of niggles. At the top of the list is its design. Although the liberal use of plastic helps keep the headphones light and affordable, it also makes it look cheap. The cable, meanwhile, is not detachable, which not only limits your options but also means that should the cable ever go kaput, the whole device becomes unusable. Then there’s its key feature. Although the full spectrum lighting effect looks neat, it ultimately serves no practical use and is just there for cosmetic effect, making it more of a superfluous add on.

Full Spectrum Lighting Effect

At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with adding a feature that’s just there for the sake of looking cool. Case in point: the full spectrum lighting effect for the Razer Firefly gaming mat. If you’re looking for an affordable pair of cans and don’t care much for looking like one of the hip kids with those fancy boutique headphones, a good price point combined with solid performance for the cost makes the iHome GlowTunes iB37 a great value.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Jason Hidalgo is About.com’s Portable Electronics expert. Yes, he is easily amused. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo and be amused, too. For more portable audio reviews, check out the Headphones and Speakers hub