The Melomania 1+ are as good as you can get for sound quality below £50. The design will undoubtedly put some off, but in terms of value there aren’t many earphones as compelling as what Cambridge Audio has put forward with these buds.
- Impressive sound for the money
- Long battery life
- Good call quality
- App support
- Some won’t like the ‘plugged in’ feeling
- Connection can get spotty in busy areas
- USB-C chargingUpgraded charging and extended battery life over original
- High Performance modeHigher quality audio mode
- App supportMelomania app features customisation for sound, controls
At first glance melomania may have you thinking of something else but they actually refer to a love of music – just in case you were wondering.
The Melomania 1+ replace the original Melomania – winner of a Trusted Reviews award back in 2019 – and carry on where that pair left off with an ambition to deliver high-quality audio at an affordable price.
Launching in 2021, the Melomania 1+ are available at their lowest price yet at £49.95. On a performance-per-pound ranking, it’d be tough not to see the Cambridge sitting high up on the list of the best affordable earphones.
- Shaped like a bullet
- Pretty good noise isolation
- Physical push controls
There have been many true wireless designs but few as unique as the Melomania. Unlike the more traditional-shaped Melomania Touch series, the Melomania 1+’s conical shape looks like a bullet that (safely) goes into the ear. They look unconventional but abide by the same principles of any true wireless earbud when it comes to creating a noise isolating seal.
They slot in easily enough, avoiding any chafing with the silicon ear-tips providing a soft first point of contact. The shape of the earphones allows for some literal wiggle room to wedge them in, their noise isolating qualities are solid in the amount of noise blocked. A generous selection of silicon and memory foam ear-tips are available for the best comfort. I prefer wearing these than I do the original.
Another aspect to consider when adjusting the fit is call quality. Just above the ‘left’ and ‘right’ logos is the microphone – this must be pointing downwards for optimal call performance.
Physical push controls are at either end of the earbuds, an audible click signals when the button has been pressed. The control scheme is simple: a single tap on either bud plays/pauses, a double tap on the right skips forward or skips back on the left, while a hold raises or lowers the volumes.
I don’t think some will like the plugged-in feeling these earphones produce but I didn’t mind it, and after a while I got used to its odd shape. Our review of the original Melomania described them as functional and while there’s a degree of function over style here, I’d say the Melomania 1+ have a sense of style because there are few like it. IP rating remains at IPX5 and this rating only covers the earphones.
The case they come in is petite in size, flips open to reveal the earphones which can be slightly tricky to extract – it feels like pincers are needed if you have big fingers. There’s a row of five small LED lights that show the case’s remaining battery, with the USB-C port (new for this model) for charging located on the side. Like the earphones, there’s a choice of black or white but head online and there’s an orange protective case with a carabiner attached available for £10.
- Supports Melomania app
- Low Power and High Performance mode
- Good call quality
There’s no noise cancellation, transparency mode or wear sensor detection – none of the more advanced features seen on recent earphones. That makes the Melomania 1+ something of a throwback to an earlier period of budget true wireless (as in, two years ago).
The Melomania app is well stocked for features. There are graphics for battery life, the ability to disable touch controls, equaliser settings, along with the option of creating three custom EQs. You can change the codec the earphones play in (a choice of aptX or AAC), update the firmware and switch audio modes from Low Power to High Performance and vice versa. Switching modes takes time but provides battery benefits if switching to the Low Power mode.
Those benefits are extra life with 9 hours per bud and 50 in total, which are similar figures to the Creative Outlier Air v3 that’s available for a few pounds less. Switch to High Performance and it drops to 7 hours and 35 in total. The overall battery is a small jump from the original’s 45 but it’s the addition of the High Performance that’s the bigger boost as I’ll get to in the audio section.
I’ve found the earphones don’t discharge at the same rate; after an hour’s use the left was at 82% and the right at 92%, but according to Cambridge Audio its normal for the main earphone to drain faster. Perhaps for the next model simultaneous transmission to both earphones could be introduced to alleviate this.
Bluetooth connectivity is v5.0 with SBC, AAC and aptX codecs (SBC can’t be disabled in the app). Connectivity is generally fine but in busy areas it can get spotty. Walking through Waterloo station and the connection broke up to the point where audio was blinking in and out through each bud.
Call quality is better than average. Walking down a main road with cars and buses passing by the person on the other end commented that they could hear me well enough and that while there were background noises for my voice to contend with, they weren’t distracting enough to cause trouble.
- Clear, detailed and weighty sound
- Improved bass performance over original
- Smooth vocal reproduction
I admit I wasn’t as keen on the original Melomania as most were. I thought there were good for where true wireless earbuds were in 2019, but I feel the Melomania 1+ are a noticeable step up from their predecessors in the sound area.
The Melomania 1+ offers a richer bass performance – more oomph, more punch and more weight. Comparing the two models, the low frequency performance of Easy Life’s Skeletons is much better served but that’s not the only part of the Melomania 1+’s performance that’s enhanced. It’s a smoother-sounding performance, with vocals that have more character and occupy a bigger presence within the soundstage. The Melomania 1+ has more meat on its bones.
Elsewhere the stereo image is more convincing, with more noticeable depth to tracks and better retrieval of detail and extra clarity and definition of instruments in The Bad Plus’ Advil. With the original, background elements of a track seemed to have less definition and could almost past me by, whereby the Melomania 1+ are more able to fetch and describe detail within a track.
Dynamically they’re not one-note either, the difference between quiet and loud is conveyed well, and the timbre of notes are a little more distinct and obvious to hear.
They’re not as crisp in tone as the original, and I feel the high frequency response of the original is sharper and clearer with more top end shine listening to GoGo Penguin’s Raven, but the trade-off is that the bass isn’t as well emphasised. I think the Melomania 1+ strike a better balance and tone, and as a result work better with more music genres.
The greater sense of balance is noticeable with Jacob Collier’s All I Need (with Mahalia & Ty Dolla), but also more notable is there’s less signal noise for clearer playback. The soundstage is wider, and the Melomania 1+ strike a more natural tone with both voices and instruments. These are the benefits High Performance mode brings over the original. They’d be a very good buy at their original price, but for £50 you’d struggle to find a better-sounding pair.
Should you buy it?
For premium audio quality at a low price: There’s plenty of competition around the £100 mark but in removing themselves from the fray, the Melomania 1+ assert themselves as an excellent budget buy.
The design is not for those who don’t like the plugged in feeling of wireless earbuds: If you don’t like the ‘plugged in’ design of wireless earphones then you certainly won’t be won over by the Melomania 1+.
Such was the deluge of true wireless earbuds launched throughout 2021, there wasn’t time to cover everything. One pair that slipped through the cracks were the Melomania 1+ and judging by their performance, they shouldn’t slip by you.
It helps that Cambridge has reduced the price to £49.95, which will stick around for the foreseeable future. By reducing the price, it further removes the Melomania 1+ from the cabal of noise cancelling buds around the £100 mark. In terms of performance per pound, it’s hard to ignore the value the Melomania 1+ offer.
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Tested across a month
Tested with real world use
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There is no ANC on this model, the Melomania 1+ block out external sound through their passive noise isolating design.
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