Many people's first experience of 'proper' noise cancelling headphones will have come courtesy of a pair of Bose cans, supplied to cancel out the hum of aeroplane engines in business class. Bose has been involved in the technology for some years now and seems to have the airline business well and truly sewn up. I've also seen its earbuds bundled with some MP3 players: the Samsung T10 for instance has a decent pair of Bose phones included. But strangely it hasn't yet gone for the biggest growing sector of the headphone market - in-ear headphones - in a particularly big way.
In fact it currently only has one pair of headphones in this sector - the Bose in-ear headphones - and these represent a pretty an odd way of dipping the corporate toe into these highly competitive waters. I say odd because, while virtually every other manufacturer has focused on noise canceling canal phones of late, Bose's newest headphones are, in fact earbuds. Not in the traditional sense - they do have silicone rubber tips that extend inside your ear canal - but they don't create an airtight seal. The main body of the silicone rubber tips actually sit outside the ear canal and the result is that, though slightly more effective than a standard pair of iPod-style earbuds, they don't cut out external noise to any great degree.
This is clearly a pair of headphones designed to turn heads, though. Rather than plain black cables, they're decked out with rather fetching stripy black-and-white wires. These cables are also thick and feel well up to being trapped in your jacket zip a few times, while the joints at each end are similarly well put together. Other nice touches include a 3.5mm jack skinny enough to fit the iPhone's headphone port directly, and a decent range of accessories. In the box is a rectangular soft case with enough room to stow headphones plus a small MP3 player, a clothing clip to keep the wires from tugging at your ears, and a lanyard that allows you to hang the phones around your neck when you're not listening to music.