Gear Review: Audio-Technica SonicFuel in-ear headphones ATH-CKX5iS [PLUS A GIVEAWAY]

Find out how you can win a pair of Audio-Technica’s SonicFuel in-ear Headphones ATH-CKX5iS at the bottom of this post!

ath_ckx5isbk_1_sqHiking with music is crucial for some hikers. Headphones might even be a must-have on your gear list. Your average in-ear headphones do not account for different ear sizes or have a secure fit during active use. I was overjoyed to hear from Audio-Technica about their unique in-ear headphones. These headphones come with different size ear tips and security tips to guarantee a perfect fit for any size ear.

Disclaimer: These headphones were donated for review purposes. I am not obliged to give this product a good review. I will still write objectively, exactly as if I purchased this item.

Audio-Technica’s ATH-CKX5iS SonicFuel™ In-ear Headphones

MSRP: $49.95

Comes with:

C-Tips: S, M, L
Ear Tips: XS, S, M, L
Carrying pouch
Headphone Set

DSCN2968 DSCN2959

360° rotating ear tip
C-tip design fits the shape of your ear
In-line control with mic for answering/ending calls, controlling music & video playback, and controlling volume

Audio-Technica’s Warranty

Stated from their website:

“All Audio-Technica products purchased from Audio-Technica Europe are guaranteed for TWO years from the date of purchase to be free of defects in materials and workmanship. In the event of such defect, the product will be repaired or replaced without charge.  This is provided that a valid purchase receipt is submitted with the product and the fault is one of legitimate electrical or mechanical failure.

The Audio-Technica warranty excludes defects due to normal wear, abuse, shipping damage, or failure to use the product in accordance with the instructions.”

Test Subjects

Ryan & Madison
Madison, XS ear tip, S C-tip
Ryan, M size ear tip and C-tip
I took my headphones on a trail run. Ryan took them on a road bike ride.

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First Impressions:

Before even seeing the headphones, I was excited. I have small ears and using your average in-ear headphone can be painful for me.



I used the extra small ear tip and the smallest size c-tip. The c-tip fit perfectly in the arch of my ear. The ear tip was phenomenal. It was the first time a headphone ear bud was comfortable for me. Ryan, who wore a medium ear tip and medium C-tip, really enjoyed his fit as well.

Good Sound Quality

Besides the awesomely interesting fit, the sound quality was great. I did not hear any muffling or flaws when it came to sound quality.

Perfect Fit for Any Ear

I like how these headphones come with all the tips in all the sizes. It is available to comfortably and perfectly fit every size ear.


Whenever I run with my normal headphones, I do experience some slippage out of my ear. This might just be associated with my smaller ears but I had no trouble with these in-ear headphones. The C-tip’s design is interesting yet functional. The C-tip truly secured the ear bud into my ears.


Compared to over-the-ear headphones, these are lightweight. The weight is similar to other in-ear headphones.

Volume Toggle & In-Line Mic Control

The volume toggle feature is easy and convenient. The control also allows you to easily answer calls.


Difficult to Interchange Sizes

Changing the sizes from small to medium was a bit difficult and confusing. I had to look at the directions that came with the headphones. I might have gotten a bit frustrated. It might have taken me 15 minutes.

Cord Tangles

Tangle-free cable cords on headphones are a new-ish headphone feature. Basically, the cord is flat instead of round.  The cord on these headphones are not tangle-free.


Depending on perspective, these headphones are a bit pricey. However, when researching headphones that have in-ear rotation and c-tips, this is a bit of a bargain. So, compared to your trusty $15 headphones, these are asking a bit more.

Rating System

Based on my own experience, I have rated these headphones on a 1-5 scale, 5 being the best rating.

Comfort: 5

The comfort was amazing. I would recommend these headphones for those with a not-so-average ear size.

Design: 4

The design is awesome. I love that the ear tip rotates and the c-tip fits great. The only flaw would be the tangle-prone cord.

Quality: 5

The sound quality does not disappoint. Since the fit was so secure, I felt more isolated with my music. I did not hear outside noises as much as I usually do with my iPhone headphones.

Value: 4

I knocked off a point for value because these might be a bit pricey for some.


Audio-Technica’s Waterproof Headphones

Tangle-free headphones – These are a similar style but the price is about $100 more.

OVERALL RATING: 4.5 out of 5



Now here’s your chance to get a pair of these bad boys yourself (for free)!

Step 1) Join the Appalachian Trials Weekly Newsletter below (or here)

Step 2) “Like” this post.

Step 3) In the comments of this post, let us know what song, artist, or album you’ve listened to most while hiking / backpacking- and why it resonates with you.

The email address for your comment must be the same as the one you used to sign up for the Newsletter in order for your entry to be valid.  We will select a winner on Monday, Dec. 1st 2014 and notify him/her via email.

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Comments 2

  • James : May 17th

    The song “Best Day of My Life” because when I’m hiking it’s always the best day of my life!

  • Nick K : Sep 12th

    Their value is good, and the C-Tips work well. The problem is the company, the C-Tips at some point fail, and trying to get replacements is difficult. Audio-Technica are absolutely ignorant, I have contacted them 3 times to source replacements, and they cannot even be bothered to respond, let alone give me the information that I want. There has been absolutely no response at all. Ill-mannered useless customer support from Audio Technica.


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