I was recently given the opportunity to try out a pair of Audio-Technica SonicFuel headphones. The model is catchily named ATH-CKX9iS, which is the top of the range for their in-ear models, advertised as giving the highest-quality sound with the best dynamic range. And they definitely do sound great, with a very clear sound and fantastic detail.
I was also impressed by the set of adjustable ear pieces that come in the box - enabling you to adjust the fit to the size of your own ears. There are two independently replacable parts: the ear buds themselves, and the hooks for keeping them in your ears. This means you can get a very snug fit, which has benefits for the sound quality as well as making them unlikely to fall out if you're on the go. I have tiny ears, and by picking out the smallest sizes, even I can get the buds right inside my ears. Doing the actual adjustments is a little bit fiddly, but hopefully I won't have to do it again for a while.
While these headphones don't have active noise cancellation, the way they sit in your ears does cut out most extraneous noise. When silent, it's much like having your fingers in your ears. Listening to music, it means you really have to pay attention if you want to hear external sounds... as Andy finds out whenever he tries to talk to me.
When I tried them out on the plane to Turkey, I found that they successfully cut out most of engine noise, meaning that I could listen to music or enjoy a book in peace. I haven't managed to achieve that without noise cancellation before; usually, since I never have space to pack a full-sized pair of headphones, I end up clapping my hands over my ears to try and shut out the noise of the plane. This experience was a lot better!
Similarly, at home I've been able to listen to music while Andy watches TV, without either of us disturbing the other. For those who are concerned about being considerate to others (which is everyone, I hope!), we also tested the sound leakage. Suffice it to say that at any comfortable volume, there was nothing detectable, so I'm happy that I can listen in peace without troubling fellow travellers.
The headphones come with a neat zip-up travel case that's sturdy enough to prevent them getting crushed in a suitcase, which was a nice touch.
The flat cable design is supposed to prevent tangles, although I have a special talent for tangling cables without touching them (I only have to look away for five seconds), and I certainly still managed to tangle these ones. However, they were quite easy to unknot, which is definitely a bonus.
The headphones also have a mobile controller, which interacts with compatible phones to pauses your music or answer calls. In fact, the only problem I've had with these headphones was a strange interaction with this controller on one Android phone. The headphones worked exactly as expected with other Android devices, as well as with an iPhone, Kindle, and laptop (the latter two just completely ignore the 'smart' button). But on one particular phone, there seemed to be a fault with the way the control was interpreted, meaning I could only get a clear sound if I depressed the button continuously. So if you have an obscure model of phone, you might want to test them out before buying, or just get the version without the mobile controller.
These are just one model; if you're looking for something different, you might want to take a look at the rest of the Audio-Technica range.