Cambridge Audio joins the ranks of true wireless earbud manufacturers with the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1. These bullet-shaped ‘buds are lightweight, water-resistant, and feature great battery life. Let’s find out if the Melomania 1 are extraordinary or just extra ordinary.
Who is the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 for?
The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 is for anyone. It includes a slick charging case, IPX5 water-resistant earbuds, and an array of silicone and memory foam ear tips. Standalone battery life is enough to get you through a week of workouts, and the small but mighty case provides an additional four charges.
What’s it like to use the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1?
The plastic clamshell case is magnetized and comparable to the AirPods’ case. An embossed Cambridge Audio logo rests centered in the top portion of it. This makes it easy to place your thumb and flip the lid back to reveal the earbuds. Once the case is open, five LEDs alight, assuming everything is fully charged. Concurrently, the LED rings encompassing both earbud panels glow with varying degrees of intensity.
At a glance, the earbuds appear rather slim and unobtrusive. However, anytime I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I was thrown by how far the housings jutted out from my ears. It doesn’t look quite as ridiculous as the Bose SoundSport Wireless, but it’s a stretch to say the fit is flattering. Relatedly, a cogent seal is hard to achieve since the nozzles aren’t angled. This forces the earbuds to go against the natural bend of the ear canal. The dubious fit made working out with these unappealing: the last thing anyone wants is an earbud to go flying off the treadmill.
You benefit from comprehensive controls, though. For instance, volume adjustments can be made by depressing the left or right earbud button for two seconds while music is playing. To access your virtual assistant, first press either earbud once to pause music playback. Then, double-press either earbud to make a command. Skipping tracks is enabled by double-pressing the right earbud as music plays.
How long does the battery last?
When set to a constant 75dB output, the earbuds yielded 6 hours, 17 minutes of playback. Sure, this doesn’t meet Cambridge Audio’s specified nine-hour battery life, but it’s perfectly suitable for general use. Chances are you’ll listen to volumes quieter than our testing methods require and won’t keep the earbuds in for six consecutive hours.
Again, the charging case provides an additional four charges and requires 1.5 hours to complete a full charge. This gives you approximately 24 hours of listening before you need to dig around for a pesky microUSB cable. Yes, you read that correctly. Cambridge Audio selected a microUSB charging mechanism, rather than future-proofing it with a USB-C input. For over $100, that’s a bad gaffe.
How do you connect the earbuds to your phone?
Removing the earbuds for the first time forces the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 to enter pairing mode. Once they’re removed, open the Bluetooth menu on your desired source device and select the Melomania 1. If the earbuds don’t appear in your phone’s menu, press and hold either housings’ button for two seconds.
These use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and afford a 30-meter wireless range. In practice, I experienced a few connection hiccups around the 10-meter mark. Another shortcoming is the lack of multiconnect support. In order to switch from one source device to another, you must manually do so. This requires you to return the earbuds to the case, disable Bluetooth on the previous device and enable it on the desired one. Fortunately, though, both aptX and AAC Bluetooth codecs are supported for high-quality, lag-free streaming regardless of your source device. Android users will benefit the most from aptX streaming, while iPhone users will enjoy the efficient data stream afforded by AAC.
What does the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 sound like?
The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 earbuds follow what’s trendy among consumer earbuds: emphasized lows and highs. This type of sound signature allows us to enjoy the added oomph from the bassline. Simultaneously, our brains perceive an added sense of clarity from the emphasized harmonic resonances, often found in the treble-end of the frequency range.
Audio quality is great but contingent on finding a good fit.
Isolation leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not that it’s inherently bad; in fact, isolation performance is on-par for non-specialized in-ears. However, getting a consistent seal with the earbuds proves difficult. During testing, I was often able to create a seal that loosened over 30 minutes be it from my wiggling ears or from walking around. Swapping the default silicone ear tips out for the memory foam ones helps though.
Lows, mids, and highs
In BOY’s song Hit My Heart, an uplifting beat transitions listeners into the first verse. The first drum hit at 0:06 is tame and is easy to hear apart from the concurrent high-pitched palm mute on the guitar. It doesn’t mask Valeska Steiner’s vocals until the chorus kicks in at 1:02. At this moment, Steiner’s elegant voice is hard to discern from the newly introduced claps and instrumental layering. Hearing this slight absence of vocal emphasis takes effort, though. It’s unlikely you’ll notice it unless actively searching for it.
It’s impressive how well the earbuds separate certain frequencies ranges. For instance, bassist Sonja Glass’ harmonies toward the very end of the song are inaudible with other earbuds. Yet, the Melomania 1 are able to render Glass’ voice distinguished from Steiner’s and the climactic din.
Is the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 good for phone calls?
No. Despite the use of noise cancelling microphone technology, voice reproduction sounds egregiously unnatural. As you can hear from the voice clip below, I sound muffled and distorted. This is a consequence of the severe vocal frequency attenuation from 40-400Hz. If you’re going to take a call, be it a personal or professional one, you’re best off using your smartphone’s microphone.
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 microphone demo:
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Should you buy the Cambridge Audio true wireless earbuds?
While you’re bound to enjoy the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 earbuds, there are better true wireless options available. Cambridge Audio gets a lot right with these, namely the fun sound reproduction. However, the inconsistent isolation performance, substandard microphone quality, and microUSB charging make these $129 earbuds unsavory.
If you want something with a similar cylindrical design, the Rowkin Ascent Micro is a fine alternative. You get a slightly larger, but easier-to-grip, charging case. Plus, the earbuds feature angled nozzles for a more comfortable fit and meet the same IPX5 criteria as the Melomania 1. They don’t support any high-quality codecs but can be had for $70 as of publishing this review. Alternatively, there exist a slew of excellent budget and general options, too.
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