With an unprecedented number of audio companies churning out headphones these days, manufacturers are looking for new ways to make their product stand out in a crowd, and if you’re wearing iHome’s FreedomGlow iB91 Bluetooth headphones, you certainly will.
As its name implies, iHome has capitalized on our instinctive affinity for colorful things and bright lights by integrating a kaleidoscope of LEDs into clear acrylic clamps on the back of each earcup. With the flip of a switch, the sides of your head illuminate with an eye-catching display of 7 individual colors that can be set to four different modes: a static color of your choice, a color fade effect, cycling through the colors, or a pulse of lights that follows the beat of your music.
The headphones come with a flat audio cable with in-line remote and microphone for wired connections, but also connect wirelessly via Bluetooth. When you’re plugged in the lights can run for about 24 hours. When streaming music via Bluetooth, the battery lasts about 12 hours depending on your playback volume.
The earcups are attached to a thin, flexible headband wrapped in soft leather and embossed with the iHome logo on top. The same material is found on the pads of the earcups, though the foam pads underneath are a little on the firm side. You can adjust the size with a simple resistance slider set on each side. While there’s little in the way of cushioning on the underside of the headband, the headphones are still pretty comfortable, even after many hours of wear.
The oval shape of the pads was a bit too narrow for our ears, meaning we couldn’t get a full over-the-ear seal which reduced the passive noise isolation, and there was also some external sound bleeding. Our other issue with the design is that charging port sits too close to the acrylic hanger and can be difficult to access.
The headphones themselves are very lightweight at just over 7 ounces thanks to their plastic makeup, which makes them look and feel a bit cheap. But despite that, they actually sound pretty good. The audio is clear, if a little on the bright side, with only occasional exaggerated sibilance in the cymbals and vocals. The enhanced mid-bass is full but, like a lot of budget headphones, the FreedomGlow lack depth in the lower register.
The intuitive rocker dial set on the back of the left earcup controls playback, volume, and track navigation. The lights can activated with or without music playing, and vice versa. One quirky thing with the pulsating light mode is that the blinking speed is dependent on the playback volume; crank the volume up for a strobe-like effect or go with only occasional flashing at more moderate volumes. The lights are visible during the day, but they look much more impressive in the dark. Just make sure you’ve got some friends around to enjoy the light show.
Overall, the FreedomGlow impress for a pair of budget cans, especially considering the light show in tow. We’re not sure we’d used the lights very often, but they do come in handy at night to easily locate your friends in a crowd. The FreedomGlow is available now on iHome’s website and from other online retailers for about $70.
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