Cambridge Audio Melomania assessment: tiny buds with epic battery life

True wi-fi earphones are going by way of an absolute revolution in 2019, with battery life growing prodigiously and costs dropping precipitously. Cambridge Audio’s first entry into the class, the Melomania 1, is a superb instance of this pattern, coming in at $129.95 whereas boasting 9 hours of battery life within the buds plus an unimaginable 36 further hours in its diminutive AirPods-like case. I’ve been testing the Melomania for a few weeks, and I nonetheless haven’t needed to recharge their case.

Verge readers may bear in mind Cambridge Audio from my assessment of the DacMagic XS, a tiny USB DAC and amplifier that features primarily like an exterior sound card for PCs. However the firm has a a lot deeper and longer historical past than that, with 50 years of audio engineering expertise that spans audio system, amps, AV receivers, and even a wired pair of earphones. With the long run very a lot headed in a wi-fi route, the Melomania buds come simply in time to carve out a brand new area of interest for Cambridge Audio.

My expectations of those buds weren’t tremendous excessive. They’ve a Micro USB charging connection, which I’ve been urging towards because the finish of 2017, and so they’re priced keenly sufficient to promote on their huge battery life declare alone. As long as they will play any sound in any respect, you’d suppose, loads of individuals would purchase them only for that lengthy endurance. However Cambridge Audio has completed loads of good work beside the nice energy effectivity, because the Melomania have impressed and shocked me alongside numerous fronts past their battery.

Firstly, their case. That is one of the best earphones case I’ve come throughout outdoors of the one Apple has crafted for the AirPods. The Melomania case is barely marginally bigger whereas becoming in lots of extra hours of additional cost. It has the identical clicky snap to its prime cowl as you get from the AirPods, and I discover myself absent-mindedly opening and shutting it in the identical style as I do with the Apple various. There’s only a nice tactile high quality to each merchandise, and each are extremely inflexible and durable. I recognize the robust metallic hinge and the magnet that Cambridge Audio makes use of, and the 5 LEDs on the entrance give me a sign of the case’s cost stage anytime I crack it open.

The buds themselves have a novel design. Every is a rotund cylinder, completely symmetrical and making no ergonomic lodging, and so they seem to cost through a metallic strip that sits like a belt round their midsection (so no Pogo pins required). I’d describe their match as very hit-and-miss: I’m capable of finding a cushty option to tuck them into my ears, however my buddies have discovered their blocky form to be unnatural and a bit of bizarre to put on. I wouldn’t say the Melomania ever trigger discomfort, however they’re removed from the easy consolation of one thing like Samsung’s Galaxy Buds.

The flat exterior of every earphone is a multifunctional button, framed by an LED indicator mild that appears like a bit of halo. I like each, as I’ve seen too many good headphones spoiled by dangerous contact controls, and the lights are elegantly built-in.

My largest shock got here when really listening to the Melomania, that are actually fairly good. This begins with good sound isolation, because the Melomania are vastly forward of Apple’s AirPods in terms of turning down exterior noise. With these buds, I can nonetheless hear issues round me and concentrate on my environment, however I additionally get a significantly better sense of the music I’m listening to whereas strolling by way of busy metropolis streets.

The soundstage, readability, and tonal steadiness that the Melomania present are all higher than standard for true wi-fi earphones. There’s no bloated low finish or excessively sparkly highs to talk of, and all the things feels coherent and in steadiness. Voices sound pure and guitars sound like somebody’s plucking at their strings. This isn’t to counsel that the Melomania are any type of high-fidelity, audiophile-grade {hardware}, as a result of they’re not. They’ve their limitations, and so they do garble up the occasional little bit of fine-grained element. However even with out reaching new pinnacles of audio perfection, they’re simply an easy pay attention that jogs my memory of Apple’s AirPods: not hi-fi or distinctive, however extremely pleasurable.

Cambridge Audio has additionally taken care of the wi-fi efficiency of the Melomania, which keep a flawless reference to each iPhones and Android gadgets. The buds help Bluetooth 5 and AptX, AAC, and SBC. They’ve loads of vary, too, so it’s best to be capable to roam to the workplace espresso maker and again with out essentially having your telephone in your pocket. It’s simply nice peace of thoughts to not have to worry about avoiding interference together with your headphones’ wi-fi sign.

There’s one factor that’s horrible about these earphones, nonetheless, and that’s their microphone efficiency. Even in a quiet room, the Melomania make me sound like I’m calling from the center of an electrical storm someplace far-off. My MacBook Professional’s humble built-in mic completely embarrasses the Melomania’s, and Apple can relaxation assured that its AirPods’ excellence for taking calls is not going to be challenged by Cambridge Audio. In brief, the Melomania are for listening solely, with the mics for use solely within the direst of emergencies or to bark orders at Siri or Google Assistant, relying in your related gadget.

As to that huge battery life declare, I can’t confirm it completely as a result of I simply can’t get to a scenario the place I hearken to true wi-fi buds just like the Melomania for a full 9 hours at a time. The one time I heard their “battery low” audio cue was once I first tried them and so they weren’t charged. What this implies in observe is that these buds will cowl you for the overwhelming majority of listening eventualities, and their case offers a reassuring top-up as nicely.

I’m prepared to forgive the Melomania’s Micro USB charging port when their case makes charging such a uncommon necessity. I can see myself happening week-long work journeys with out ever carrying a Micro USB cable with me, trusting that the Melomania could have sufficient juice by themselves. And the plain upside to the omission of USB-C is that it’s helped Cambridge Audio preserve the worth of the Melomania under that of the AirPods, which is frankly important for anybody making an attempt to compete with Apple’s a lot better-known product.

There are actually solely two downsides to the Melomania, however they’re main ones. The ergonomics of those buds are fairly missing, and their microphone efficiency is garbage-tier. Nonetheless, if you happen to’re capable of finding a very good match, as I’ve, and also you don’t notably want or take care of a very good mic, these are fairly nice. They get rid of vary or endurance anxiousness for anybody reluctant to get into true wi-fi buds but, they’ve a really attainable worth, they’re constructed nicely, and so they include a terrific little case. Imperfect, however nonetheless extremely interesting.

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