For more than 50 years now, Cambridge Audio has been making high-quality British Hi-Fi equipment, speakers and home audio solutions. Now, the same London-based engineers behind the brand’s impressive Edge series have had a go at some true wireless earbuds. Here's our full review.
- ✓Great British sound
- ✓Incredible battery life
- ✓Premium build-quality
- ✓Qualcomm aptX technology
- ✓Affordable price tag
- ✕No active noise-canceling
- ✕No companion app
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 release date and price
The Melomania 1 are available now in the UK for £119.95. Music lovers in the United States will have to part with $129.95, the same price in euros for customers in Europe. Cambridge Audio gear has been available in the US directly from the manufacturer since 2017. Additionally, you can buy directly from the company’s website if you live in Germany or Hong Kong.
I have to say I’m surprised at the price of the Melomania 1. I know this is Cambridge Audio’s first venture into true wireless headphones, but I honestly think they could have gotten away with charging more. The Melomania 1 are not as feature-rich as some of the competition in-and-around this price range but the build and sound quality can match true wireless buds that are quite a lot more expensive than these.
A quick word on that name. Melomania is actually the name of a gig venue/event space built into the basement of Cambridge Audio’s London offices. The etymology begins in Latin and Ancient Greek, and it refers to “an abnormal love of music.” It’s a condition that the guys at Cambridge Audio tell me everyone who works there suffers from.
Premium feel, clean design
The design of the Melomania 1 is typically Cambridge Audio. Clean. Understated. Almost minimalist at times. The 5.8mm drivers in these are made from graphene, making them lightweight (4.6g each) yet strong. There’s IPX5 certification to protect them from sweat and the occasional downpour. The buds themselves stick out a little more than, say, the Earin M-2 and they are about as bulky as the Samsung Galaxy Buds.
The carry/charging case, however, feels very premium. The charging poles make contact with the earbuds directly through the tips themselves, so there are no ugly metal connections on show when the headphones are out of the case. The buds snap into their beds magnetically. It’s a strong connection that feels reassuringly expensive. The same is true of the lid. It’s got a certain snap to it that you just don’t get from other charging cases in this price range. You know how a luxury car door has that expensive sound and feel to it when you shut it? That’s what the Melomania 1 charging case is like.
Each earbud features a clickable button at the end, molded to form the brand’s logo - itself a throwback to dials on some of its early audio equipment - which is used for controls. A single press on the right earbud is your play and pause toggle. A double press on the right skips to the next track, and to the previous track on the left. A long press adjusts the volume up (right) and down. You can press either once to accept an incoming phone call or use a long press to reject it. Accessing your smartphone’s digital voice assistant is done by pausing, then double tapping either side.
Bluetooth 5.0 technology provides wireless connectivity at up to 30 meters and improved battery efficiency. Inside the box you’ll get a selection of different sized silicone and memory foam tips and a short USB cable for charging.
Balanced sound for music manics
The sound delivered by the Melomania 1 is high quality and in line with the company’s vision for great British sound. The philosophy here is music the way the artist intended it to be heard, with nothing added, and nothing taken away. As a result, the sound is very balanced. There’s more emphasis on rich mids than booming bass.
Cambridge Audio has worked closely with Qualcomm to integrate the American giant’s aptX technology. Qualcomm aptX is an advanced compression tool that means you can beam higher quality sound via Bluetooth than you can with SPC or AAC. I tested the Melomania 1 with my Google Pixel 3a using aptX and with an iPhone XS which only supports AAC. The Qualcomm tech does make a noticeable difference.
Call quality is helped by Qualcomm’s Clear Voice Capture (cVc) noise-canceling technology. It ensures outside noise is effectively filtered out so that you can hear the person on the other end of the phone easily. It works fine, although I’m not a fan of making calls with Bluetooth headsets in general. There is no noise-canceling on these for music playback.
One thing I cannot stress enough is how important ensuring you have the right tips fitted for these headphones is to sound quality. I was disappointed with the sound the first time I popped them in my ears. I’d just taken them out of the box, paired them quickly and gone with the silicone tips that were shipped on the earbuds. Switching to the memory foam for a tighter seal not only improved noise-cancellation but opened up the sound. The difference was tenfold. A snug fit is more crucial to the sound of the Melomania 1 than on any other pair of in-ear headphones I’ve tried before.
How does 45 hours of battery sound?
The battery life on the Melomania 1 is, without doubt, one of the highlights of the headphones. The charging case comes with a 700 mAH battery in it, which can hold four full chargers of the earbuds. Combined with another 9 hours of charge in the headphones themselves, you’re looking at a total of 45 hours of music playback from 100% to zero.
For comparison’s sake, that’s almost twice the battery life of Apple’s AirPods (24 hours) and three times more than Nokia’s True Wireless headphones. Part of the reason for this lengthy autonomy is down to that Qualcomm aptX technology. It’s extremely energy efficient. During my testing, the 45-hour claim stands up to scrutiny. It’s not often I find myself artificially draining the battery by leaving the headphones playing on my desk while I work to check manufacturer battery life claims.
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 technical specifications
For its first foray into true wireless headphones, Cambridge Audio has done a lot right here. The Melomania 1 live up to the brand’s reputation for quality audio and contemporary design aesthetic. The lack of active noise-canceling or a companion app for EQ controls should not be overlooked, but this is award-winning British audio engineering on the go, at an affordable price.
There’s no confirmation of any follow-up products, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the team in London was already throwing ideas around for Melomania 2. If this is the starting point for Cambridge Audio’s entry into the true wireless headphones market, I’m excited to see what it does next.