Ok, so I’m supposed to follow suit with all the reviews online about the wonderful new Cambridge 1+ True Wireless In-Ear Headphones. I’m supposed to tell you that this refresh features some significant build upgrades that enhance the user experience but it’s overall the same great product and same great sound.
But I can’t do that.
My experience with the Melomania 1+ versus the original Melomania One’s is night and day. To me, it’s not even close to being a minor upgrade. It’s a huge one.
The original Melomania 1 touted clarity and a true-to-life, ‘Great British Sound’ and while they sounded good, they took a bit of getting used to. To my ears, they erred on the side of neutral and favored a more articulate sound profile. They dug up a decent amount of detail and had a weighty soundstage. The bass was good, but it wasn’t as deep as I would have liked, and so when it came to listening on my daily commute—holy crap, remember commutes? I found that keeping the maximum volume at 60-70% was the comfort zone for my ears.
Everything is different now. For one, I no longer commute. Which means I no longer ride the subway. I no longer have to wait in a packed subway station and watch packed trains go by until one not-so-packed train arrives so I can stuff myself in. I no longer have to spend the next hour or so trying to ignore whatever that smell is. I no longer have to try my best to not hold the gross handlebars, or try to not step on somebody’s toes, or accidentally bodycheck an old lady, while trying to block out everything with my favorite playlist of the day. Thanks, COVID-19!
We’ve moved out of the city and I work from home. My lack of a commute does have a downside of sorts. As it relates to this review, I’m not commuting for two hours a day, so I rarely wear headphones anymore. And because everybody avoids crowds these days, I’m not able to check whether the connection from the Melomania 1+ Earbuds to my phone holds up in a crowded situation.
There are other instances where one would wear headphones, like at the gym, but those are all closed. Or for morning runs but, I’m not much of a runner—I should start running though, I’m getting so fat! So, I would have to use the Melomania 1+ when I wouldn’t normally use earbuds; like cooking, or Zoom calls, or making beats in my studio. But because of this, I kept forgetting to give them a go and days turned to weeks, and soon I was overdue to finish this review.
Bluetooth 5.0, Class 2
Triple-core Processor Architecture: Dual-core 32-bit processor application subsystem & Qualcomm QCC3026 Single-core 120Mhz Kalimba DSP audio subsystem
A2DP, AVRCP, HSP, HFP
aptX™, AAC, SBC
5.8mm Dynamic with Graphene-enhanced Diaphragm
20Hz – 20kHz
TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION:
<0.04% @1kHz 1mW
Up to 9 Hours (Continuous A2DP Playback)
BATTERY PLAYTIME (TOTAL):
Up to 45 Hours (9 + 36)
Approximately 2 hours (0%to 100%)
5V, 500mA (or greater): USB charging (USB-C cable supplied)
MEMS with cVc™ Noise Cancellation
96dB SPL at 1kHz
FREQUENCY RESPONSE (MICROPHONE):
100Hz to 8kHz
Yes: Siri (iOS) / Google Assistant (Android)
IPX5 (Water Splash Resistant (Earbuds & Case))
0°C to +40°C / 32°F – 104°F
OPERATING RELATIVE HUMIDITY:
10 to 80%, Non-condensing
Charging case: 59 x 50 x 22mm; Earphones: 27 x 15mm
Earbud: 4.6g each (9.2g both Earbuds); Charging Case: 37g; Total: 46.2g
Black: Matte UV lacquer, White: Matte UV lacquer
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ True Wireless Headphones Price:
Headphone Review 2021, Cambridge audio, melomania 1+, wireless headphones, in-ear headphones, headphones, Bluetooth
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There wasn’t a whole lot Cambridge needed to change with the Melomania 1+ overhaul. They look pretty much the same (which is good) but now they have ditched the stone finish and are now available in black and white. My review sample came in black. The earbuds look the same except for the blue ‘L’ and ‘R’ labeling on either piece versus the white and black seen previously. The splashproof case now has a matte finish. But as mentioned above, they tweaked the design and functionality which have made for an even more compelling reason to make these your earbuds of choice or upgrade from the previous generation. Let’s dive in.
For starters, the charging has been upgraded from Micro USB (barf) to USB-C fast charging. The Melomania 1+ has nine hours of battery life on a single charge while the charging case offers another 36 hours. That’s an incredible 45 hours of total playtime, up from the previous 36 hours. That’s undoubtedly more than enough for most people. After two-plus years my Melomania 1 still has great battery life. Sometimes even after sitting unused for a few weeks, I can pop them open and enjoy them without worrying about the charge. Battery life for the charging case is indicated by five small lights on the exterior. The Melomania 1+ will fully charge from zero in about two hours.
Next up, they have added app control, customizable EQ settings, and a High-Performance Audio Mode. I noted last time around that I loved not having a proprietary app for the Melomania 1. I’m not a big fan of separate apps for everything in my audio life and essentially being pulled toward my phone all day. But alas, there’s almost no escaping it these days and the app is pretty sweet! It’s free and available for iOS and Android. It allows you to unlock new features, check on the battery life of individual earbuds, and find lost earbuds. A quick aside, my wife had a pair of Apple’s wireless earbuds, and my son Milo—who was about one-and-a-half at the time—got ahold of them, and about five minutes later we were down an earbud. It’s never been recovered. The ‘Find My Earphones’ function would have come in handy then.
New in the Melomania 1+ is the addition of a wider selection of memory foam tips (both medium and large size) for greater comfort, excellent noise isolation, and a secure fit. This is a boon for me as I found the smaller memory foam tips to better fit my tiny ear holes. Did I mention I have tiny earholes? At least I think I do. Earbuds, even ones with smaller tips tend to slip out of my ear canals almost as if my ears were spitting them out like chewing gum that has lost its flavor. Super annoying. In any case, I went with the smaller memory foam tips this time around, and with a few gentle push-turns into my ear, they fit snug and securely. A good fit is essential for getting the best out of the Melomania 1+. A poor fit will result in poor sound. I tried some running around in our yard and some jumping jacks and the Melomania’s stayed securely in my ears.
Each earbud has a built-in microphone for hands-free calling and clickable controls for playback. I’m so used to reaching for my phone to handle these functions that I had to keep reminding myself to stop reaching for it. Supplied along with the material is a quick cheat card guide to get a handle on the basic functions. The functions take a bit of time to get used to especially without the cheat card. Press either the left or right button to Play or Pause. A double click of the right bud skips to the next track and a double click on the left takes you back. I found that pressing the buttons messes with the fitting and is a bit jarring. In the end, I didn’t use the earbud buttons and just used my phone to control them.
Unchanged from the previous generation, The Melomania 1+ features 5.8mm graphene-enhanced drivers. However, unlike the originals, the aforementioned High-Performance Audio Mode utilizes the same hi-fi grade amplification found in Cambridge Audio’s CX range of components giving the default sound mode lower noise levels, higher dynamic range, and a wider soundstage. Bluetooth 5.0 is onboard and supports AAC and aptX codecs. You can change them via the Melomania app. The earbuds weigh in at just 4.6g and are IPX5 certified, protecting them against rain and sweat.
Lastly, the packaging is new. I mention this as Cambridge Audio has always had better packaging than most of its competitors. It is always a pleasure to unpack their goods and I find myself hanging on to their packaging more often than not. Here’s what you get in the box: two earbuds. the charging case, cheat card, a USB-A to USB-C charging cable, four small silicone tips, four medium silicone tips (two fitted), four large silicone tips, four medium memory foam tips, and four large memory foam tips.
Setup is super easy. I unboxed them, picked my ear tips, and put them into my ears. Then I paired them to my iPhone 12. Pairing the earbuds requires a simple press to turn them on and then selecting the Melomania 1+ via the Bluetooth selector on my iPhone. With that done, I downloaded the free Melomania app from the Apple store (it’s also free for Android users). Once downloaded then a quick firmware update and I was off to the races.
I’m not so sure that Cambridge wants me to say this, but man, these are so much better than the originals. I realize that I’m a sample size of one. But to my ears, the Melomania 1+ sounds completely different from its predecessor. And completely different is, in this case, a really good thing. It’s a deeper, fuller, and wider soundstage than before. Especially in High-Performance mode. A mode which I left the Melomania 1+ in for most of my listening unless I was listening to podcasts because, why listen to music in a lesser sound format? And when you have seemingly unlimited charge listening time, again, why not? The bass is just plain better this time around. It’s not in your face or overblown, but it adds to a soundstage that’s fuller than the Melomania 1.
The Melomania app features a graphic eq that allows you to tweak the Cambridge tuned sound of the Melomania 1+. The EQ portion of the app is something akin to the free app that the Onkyo HF player app released a few years back. It’s cool because you get to tinker to your heart’s content and even save a few of your favorite presets. I won’t lie, as soon as I got the app open, I immediately changed the eq to something I thought I would like and left it there. I barely tweaked it until I started writing this review. Only then did I mess with it a bit to see if I preferred the standard eq or something else entirely. The standard sound mode is engaging and lively, and could quite literally be the most ideal setting for the Melomania 1+. But I liked my custom setting and I kept going back to it. I found myself listening at a higher volume than I did the original Melomania 1 as the sound is much less shrill at higher volumes. Because of the improved sound, I found the Melomania 1+ now takes up a pocket in my Aer Day Sling as part of my daily carry, next to the replacement battery for my Sony Rx100va. To me, that’s a big deal.
Downsides? Well, calls are better than previously, but my wife still thinks I sound like I’m calling from a tunnel or parking garage. It’s audibly better than with the Melomania 1, but it’s still not perfectly clear. Zoom calls work well enough too and nobody thus far has mentioned any audio issues. If having the best sound while making calls with wireless earbuds is a priority, you might want to look elsewhere.
The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ True Wireless In-Ear Headphones are a major upgrade over their predecessor. USB-C charging and High-Performance Audio Mode take them to a whole new level.
- High-Performance Audio Mode
- Customizable EQ
- Secure fit
- The Sound!
- I can’t think of anything offhand.
To my ears, the Melomania 1+ is both evolution and revolution. In my review of the original Melomania, I wondered if gen 2 would make a worthy upgrade over gen 1. And yes, it does. It makes for a very compelling first purchase or upgrade. The sound quality is class-leading, the feature set is extensive, and the user experience is great.