Review: Cambridge Audio's Melomania 1 true wireless earphones
A couple of weeks ago, Cambridge Audio entered the true wireless earphones space with the oddly-named Melomania 1. With up to 45 hours of use before needing to find a power outlet, will these cable-free earphones keep the music playing long after AirPods wearers are forced to sit in silence? We've been putting them to the test to find out.
The short answer to the leading question is yes. The Melomania 1 earphones last a good deal longer per charge than Apple's second gen AirPods, but the story is a little less black and white than that.
In continuous testing we paired the Melomania 1s with a Fiio M7 DAP, and set the volume to comfortable listening levels. Marathon listening sessions followed, but in the end we got a tad less out of the Melomania 1s than the headline-grabbing 9 hours.
A low battery warning interrupted listening at around 7.5 hours in, and silence followed somewhere between the 8 and 8.5 hour mark.
Despite not making it past the advertised finishing line, the battery life is still very impressive and a noteworthy improvement on others in the space at the moment. It's fair to say that in normal use – where the user would listen during a commute and pop them in the charging case while at work, then take them out for the journey home – these earphones will last and last and last, only occasionally needing mains power to top up.
The charging case is about the same size as the one that the AirPods come with. The earphones are plonked in bud-end first, which results in a satisfying click as the magnets secure them in place, then the light ring on the outermost face of each earphone starts pulsing and charging begins.
A 15 minute top up is reported to result in almost 2 hours worth of charge, which we found to be a little less than advertised in tests – at a smidgen more than an hour and a half. An hour in the charging case and you should be good for over 6 hours of listening, with a full 90 minutes taking the batteries to full.
The charging case itself is good for four full charges of the earphone unit batteries, after which you'll need to find a USB port or wall socket for an adapter. There's a five light status bar on the front of the case to keep check on remaining charge.
The Melomania 1 earphones feature Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity with AAC and aptX codec support for high quality wireless listening. We did suffer from some quite spotty moments from time to time, even when the source players were but inches away from the Melomania 1s. Pairing again with the source player seemed to sort such things out, or just waiting for them to auto reconnect.
Size-wise, the Melomania 1 earphones have about the same dimensions as the very first true wireless earbuds from Earin. There's a multipurpose button on the end of each earphone unit. It isn't as sophisticated as the touch-enabled outer face on Phiaton's Bolt BT 700 earphones, but all of the important functions are covered – playing/pausing playback, skipping tracks, volume control, taking calls and so on. Just make sure you're not pushing the buds down the ear canal when music is playing as it's very easy to accidentally press the button and pause, then play, then pause again.
If you want to hear what's going on in the world around you or hear what your friend is trying to tell you, you'll need to remove an earphone from your ear as there is no transparency mode. Also, there's no way to power off the earphones when outside of the case. They go to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity, and are powered up again with a press of the button.
Taking calls and activating Google Assistant on our Android phone proved painless, though the microphone wasn't the best we've used and was reported by call recipients as a bit on the quiet side.
Audio performance can be quite subjective, but we'll do our best to capture the essence of what's on offer here in terms of sonic performance.
The earphones come with a little card titled "Great fit = Great sound" that briefly explains that a deep, secure fit is essential to getting the most from the listening experience. The package comes with three pairs of silicone buds and one pair of foam buds. As the silicone buds were already attached to the earphones, we tried those first.
Despite what seemed like a good fit, the listening experience proved less than stellar. Though the mids and highs were well represented, the lower registers were somewhat lacking, meaning we couldn't fully appreciate the four string wonders served up by Norman Watt-Roy of Ian Dury & The Blockheads fame, for example, or Glenn Hughes on the opening track of the first Black Country Communion album.
That changed when we swapped out silicone for foam. The more secure, more snug fit brought the bass back up in the mix to offer well-rounded, balanced delivery with no detectable distortion.
Multi-layered tracks like Cathedral in a Suitcase by Pat Metheny were given the space they needed to breathe, we appreciated the tightness and quick response when it came to Turn It Out from Death From Above 1979, and impressive detail, separation and punch were present and correct for Pink Floyd's Money. Busy tracks like G.O.A.T. from those talented youngsters who make up Polyphia served to make a convincing case for the aptX codec too, where CD quality sonics are the order of the day.
The bottom line
The battery life here is impressive. You could easily rock on for weeks without going anyway near a power outlet. Sure, we didn't manage to eke out the full 9 hours per charge from the earphones, but what we did get was much more than the likes of Phiaton's Bolt or Apple's AirPods.
We suffered from a few dropouts during our testing, and we were nowhere near the wireless range boundaries of music source players or earphones when they happened. And considering the audio quality when we managed to get a really good fit, we expected more from the microphone.
However, minor grumps aside, we'd say that the Melomania 1 true wireless earphones are well worth the US$129.95 asking price – which is a good bit cheaper than a pair of second gen AirPods.
Two color choices are available – black or white – but half a dozen silicone sleeves can be had for the charging case that not only protect it from life's inevitable bumps, but also add a splash of color and a carabiner.
Product page: Melomania 1