Cambridge Audio is a relatively new player when it comes to wireless earbuds, but it has a long history in audio equipment, having made amplifiers and speakers since the 1970s.
It first released the Melomania 1 earbuds back 2019, followed by the upgraded Melomania 1+ earlier this year. Now, the 1+ has dropped in price to just £99.95, down from £119.95, exactly the same as impressive recent bud launches like Nothing’s ear (1) and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds+ – so no better time for Express.co.uk to test it out.
According to Cambridge Audio, the buds “are built for music lovers who enjoy hearing every detail, nuance and beat in their favourite songs” and “offer an outstanding audio experience at a competitive price”. We can all agree on the competitive price (less than half the cost of AirPods Pro) however, are these ‘buds good enough to become a music lover’s go-to?
The first thing you notice when opening the slick packaging is the buds’ unusual bullet-like shape. This sets them apart from Apple’s AirPods and the hundreds of other clones that clog up the pages on Amazon. The Melomania 1+ come with a selection of ten silicon tips in different shapes, including some memory foam ones, which are meant to mold to the shape of your eardrum to create a better seal.
After choosing the right tip – which takes a little trial and error – you need to twist them into your ear. Once in place, the buds feel snug and secure. However, although they did last through a light gym session, they wouldn’t be my bud of choice for heavy exercise. The shape means they often felt at risk of slipping out, something we haven’t experienced with some rivals at the same price point.
Connecting to your phone is a breeze. The earbuds pick up the Bluetooth 5.0 connection as soon as you pop them out of the case, and there isn’t much more setup involved than that.
The pocket-friendly USB-C charging case has light indicators on the outside to show the power level. It holds up to 45 hours of charge, with each earbud capable of up to nine hours of playback. They drop back into the case with satisfying magnetic clicks.
You can control the music while you’re listening by clicking a button on the top of each bud. A double click on the right or left skips forward or back a track and a single tap to pause and play. The buttons take more pressure to use than similar touch-controlled buds, making them a little more effort but harder to press by accident.
On to the sound, which is Cambridge Audio’s biggest selling point.
“Melomania” means “excessive or abnormal attraction to music” – and if you’re a melomaniac, the buds have been engineered to satisfy your needs.
Cambridge Audio’s years of audio experience is audible in every note, with a crisp and clear sound that’s hard to believe from an earbud. The bass is particularly impressive from a mic of this size, enabled by the super-lightweight 5.8mm graphene drivers.
By default, the earbuds are set to “High Performance” audio mode, a new innovation from the manufacturer which puts them on a par with its stereo amplifiers. You can switch to a power-saving lower quality setting through the Melomania iOS and Android app, but this does involve upgrading the firmware and was a bit fiddly, to be honest.
If you’re headed out on a long journey soon and want the ‘buds to last the duration, it might be worth going through the hassle. But for anyone using the Melomania 1+ for a short, daily commute, don’t bother.
Elsewhere in the app, you can check how much charge is left in each bud and activate “find your earbuds”. It also comes with an EQ with a slick visual interface, where you can choose presets or customise your own by dragging around bass and treble markers.
The one minor drawback for some will be the lack of active noise cancellation, seen in the Sony WF-1000XM3 (£129), Panasonic RZ-S500W (£99) and more premium buds like the AirPods Pro (£249) and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro (£189).
However, the bullet shape of the buds and excellent sound quality mean this isn’t really an issue – Cambridge Audio calls it “noise isolation” and it is fairly effective for trips to the coffee shop or gym.
Overall, if you’re after a mid-priced bud with premium audio quality, we think the Melomania 1+ can’t be beaten – and the recent price drop is just the icing on the cake.