The Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus are a rarity in the world of affordable true wireless earbuds. Rather than attempting to stand out from the crowd with a list of features as long as your arm, they prioritise sound quality above all else.
There’s no active noise cancellation or transparency mode, the buds don’t automatically pause when taken from your ears and the case doesn’t support wireless charging. But what they do offer is a “High Performance” audio mode boasting increased dynamic range and an expansive soundstage, albeit at the cost of battery life.
In that mode, the Melomania 1 Plus deliver rich, detailed audio other £100 earbuds simply can’t match, along with customisation options to further enhance your listening experience. That experience would be even better if they were more comfortable, but the Melomania 1 Plus are about as close to audiophile earbuds as you’ll get for this money.
Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus review: What do you get for the money?
In terms of their cost, the Melomania 1 Plus launched at £120 but saw a price cut earlier this year and will now set you back £100.
Available in either black or white, the earbuds operate wirelessly over Bluetooth 5.0 and support the SBC, AAC and aptX codecs. Codec switching is handled within the Melomania app, which is available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Included in the box is one of the most generous selections of eartips I’ve come across. In total, you get nine pairs: two sets of small, medium and large silicone tips, along with small, medium and large foam pairs. Also supplied is a USB-A to USB-C cable with which you top up the accompanying charging case.
The case measures 50 x 22 x 59mm (WDH) and provides up to 28 hours of playback if using the Melomania 1 Plus in High Performance mode. Combined with roughly seven hours from the buds themselves, you’re looking at somewhere in the region of 35 hours total playtime. If you’re willing to sacrifice some audio quality for more battery life, the Low Power mode will help eke out around two hours more from the buds and take total staying power to 45 hours. These figures are of course dependent on your listening habits and volume levels, so your mileage will vary.
Both the case and earbuds themselves are IPX5 rated for water resistance, which is more than adequate to protect them in a sudden downpour and means they’ll withstand sweaty workouts in the gym.
Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus review: What do we like about them?
It should be clear by now that audio quality is the area in which the Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus excel. The buds house 5.8mm dynamic drivers and, when in High Performance mode, they provide sound quality that far exceeds what you’d expect from £100 earbuds.
Underpinning the sound signature is a robust bass response that delivers R&B tracks like Rihanna and Drake’s “Work” and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” with a pleasing punch. There’s more than enough weight to the low-end reproduction to keep bassheads happy but those in search of detail and clarity are in for a treat, too.
The nuances of both Rihanna and Drake’s vocals were communicated wonderfully well and I was able to pick up on the slightest changes in intonation and dynamics. The only time the earbuds faltered was during really big, bassy songs where treble got a little lost in the mix.
But this is where the Melomania 1 Plus’ EQ adjustment options come in handy. The Melomania companion app has a five-band graphic equaliser that can be used to tweak any of the six preset EQs or create three of your own from scratch. I found that by boosting the upper mid-range slightly and reducing the mid-bass frequencies I was able to achieve a profile that sounded engaging and balanced across pretty much every genre I listen to.
The app also lets you customise the earbuds’ controls, which are another area of strength. They forgo touch controls in favour of buttons you physically press and this ensured I never executed commands by accident when adjusting the buds in my ears.
The button presses cover all of your basic commands – play/pause, next track, previous track and hailing your voice assistant – but also facilitate changing volume, which is a big plus. They can’t be remapped but you can switch them off individually if you want a simplified experience, which is another nice touch.
Stated battery life is above average at 35 hours in High Performance mode (the mode in which I tested the earbuds) and highly commendable at 45 hours in Low Power mode. I got a solid week-and-a-half of use from the buds before needing to charge them, which is plenty good enough in my book.
Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus review: What could be better?
The Melomania 1 Plus would undoubtedly benefit from the addition of a few more convenience features. Active noise cancellation and a transparency mode would be very welcome, as would wear detection and the ability to charge the case wirelessly.
I’m not too keen on the design and fit, either. They look fine, but no attempt has been made to sculpt the bullet-shaped housings to the contours of people’s ears.
Because of this, I found I needed to wedge them really far into my ear canals to ensure they remained stable on a workout. This led to discomfort during longer listening sessions and the way in which the buds were positioned in my ears also caused their edges to rub against the inside of my earlobes.
Lastly, the extensive range of eartips supplied is worthy of praise but, alas, none of the supplied options helped me achieve what I’d describe as a truly comfortable fit.
Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus review: Should you buy them?
Despite that, I’m happy to recommend the Cambridge Melomania 1 Plus based on how good they sound and the audio customisation options they offer.
It says a lot about Cambridge Audio’s confidence in its sonic expertise that it’s willing to omit popular features like ANC and wear detection but, after using the Melomania 1 Plus, it’s easy to understand why.
If you can’t live without noise-cancellation, you’ll find plenty of great options on our best wireless earbuds list, but be prepared to spend more than £100 if you want ANC coupled with the sound quality the Melomania 1 Plus deliver.