Cambridge Audio is a brand best known for its high-end audio equipment – until it released the Melomania 1 true wireless earbuds, that is, which rivaled even the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods Pro with their excellent sound quality.
Two years on, and the company has launched the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch, bringing touch-sensitive controls, upgraded battery life, and a new accompanying app to the wireless earbuds.
Costing $149.95 / £129.95 (about AU$200), they’re a little pricier than their predecessors, but still cheaper than the AirPods Pro – although there’s no active noise cancellation here.
The design of Cambridge Audio’s Melomania Touch is vastly improved over the previous model, with ear fins to keep them securely in place. We found them to be supremely comfortable, and an IPX4 water-resistance rating means you can use them without fear of a little sweat or rain ending their life.
While the touch-sensitive controls are the new earbuds’ most-lauded feature, they don’t work as seamlessly as we’d have hoped. They aren’t terribly laggy or overly sensitive, but the Melomania Touch sometimes register taps incorrectly, which can lead to your music being inadvertently paused or skipped to the next track.
Connectivity isn’t seamless, either. We’d heard reports of users struggling to pair their Melomania Touch earbuds – and having tested two different pairs, we’ve found performance to vary wildly. On pairing the earbuds for the first time, we were unable to connect them to our phone without performing a full factory reset first – which is frustrating, when you consider their price.
However, where some users found these connectivity issues to persist even after a factory reset, the buds worked perfectly well for the remainder of our tests. It appears that whether or not your earbuds pair successfully is a bit of a lucky dip, which means we can’t recommend them wholeheartedly.
It’s a shame, because audio performance is outstanding. Support for aptX, AAC, and SBC codecs means you can listen to Hi-Res Audio streams, with the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch certainly doing these higher-quality files justice thanks to their wide soundstage and agile rhythmic handling.
The bass response is phenomenal, too. While some may find the low-end a little rich for their taste, bassheads will be delighted by the pumping sub-bass, which is far more powerful than we’ve heard from in-ear headphones before.
The battery life is also impressive, coming in at a combined 50 hours, with nine hours of playback provided by the earbuds themselves. Meanwhile, the new Melomania app is easy to use, offers easy control of the EQ settings, and can help you locate your misplaced buds with a ‘Find My Earphones’ feature.
If you do buy the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch, you won’t be disappointed by the sound quality, battery life or design. Just beware of those lingering connectivity issues, and be prepared for potentially frustrating touch controls.
[Update: Cambridge Audio has recently announced the Melomania 1+, which bring a new high-performance mode to the brand’s first wireless earbuds, as well an app support and adjustable EQ settings.]
Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch price and release date
- Launched on January 1, 2020
- $149.95 / £129.95 (about AU$200)
The Cambridge Audio Melomania are available to buy now, having launched on January 1, 2021.
They’ll cost you $149.95 / £129.95 (about AU$200), which is a little pricier than their predecessors at $129.99 / £119.95 upon their release in 2019. It’s worth noting that, if you’re hoping to save some money, the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 are often heavily discounted now that they’re a little older.
Saying that, the newer earbuds aren’t particularly expensive, sitting smack-bang in the mid-range of the wireless earbuds price scale. They’re cheaper than the Apple AirPods Pro, but not as budget-friendly as super-cheap models such as the Lypertek SoundFree S20.
- Comfortable fit
- IPX4 water-resistance rating
- Sensitive touch controls
The Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch sport an entirely different design to their predecessors, eschewing the bullet-style build of housings that fill the outer part of your ear, with ear fins to keep them in place.
It’s a welcome change, and they certainly felt secure when we tested them – plus that snug fit does wonders for the audio quality (but more on that later). They’re light, too, weighing only 6g. A choice of silicone ear tips and ear fins means you should be able to find a comfortable fit.
Fitness fanatics will be pleased to learn that the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch sport an IPX4 water-resistance rating, which means they should happily withstand some rain, or a little sweat if you use them while working out – although you might want something a little more rugged if you’re planning to put your earbuds through very intense exercise sessions.
A leather-look, pebble-shaped charging case looks chic, and it’s small enough to easily slip in your pocket. A row of five LEDs on the front of the case provides an indication of battery life, and round the back there’s a USB-C charging port.
As you may have guessed from the name, the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch feature touch-sensitive housings, allowing you to control your music playback with a series of taps.
Now, touch-sensitive controls can be rather hit and miss. We’ve often found ourselves frustrated with buds that don’t register our taps, buds that lag, and buds that are so highly strung that a gust of wind is enough to engage a skip of your favorite song.
Thankfully, the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch don’t quite fall into that category, although the controls aren’t seamless. A long tap to adjust the volume was often picked up as a short tap to pause our music, which quickly became frustrating, while simply placing the earbuds in the ears often resulted in unintended pauses and track skips.
Since these buds place so much emphasis on touch control, it’s disappointing that the feature doesn’t work better. While it is possible to turn off the touch controls in the Melomania app, that’s hardly the point.
- 7mm graphene drivers
- Powerful sub-bass
- Noise-cancelling mics for calls
The audio quality displayed by the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch is outstanding, just like their predecessors.
In part, this is thanks to an innovative High Performance Audio mode that uses hi-fi grade amplification technology – the same method of amplification found in the company’s award-winning CX range of hi-fi amplifiers.
Inside the buds sit 7mm drivers that have been enhanced with graphene, a material favored for its rigidity and strength, with its use contributing to the tightly controlled bass frequencies and agile rhythmic handling by the Melomania Touch.
That agility became apparent as we listened to Adrianne Lenker’s anything, with busily overlapping guitar ostinatos gently undulating below her childlike vocal, never overpowering it.
As Lenker climbs to higher notes, the trebles never sound harsh, while the soundstage feels wide open, with every instrument placed naturally.
Foo Fighters’ Everlong feels similarly expansive, with Dave Grohl’s vocal rising above the dirge of distorted guitars and thrashing drums.
Moving on to Wesley’s Theory by Kendrick Lamar, that sense of space remains, from the warm crackling sound of the sampled introduction to the chest-pumping sub-bass as the song kicks in.
Now, that sub-bass may be a little much for some, particularly if you’re looking for a natural soundstage – but for bassheads, the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch offer an impressive low-end that belies their small size.
And while that bass is seriously powerful, it doesn’t bleed into the other frequencies. The earbuds actually revealed new details in the track that we hadn’t noticed before, such as subtle backing vocals that often become lost in the mix with inferior headphones. It makes for an incredibly impressive listen; you’ll almost forget you’re not listening on a pair of studio quality over-ear headphones.
While there’s no active noise cancellation on offer here, the buds provide a good amount of passive noise cancellation thanks to their snug fit. The Transparency mode is decent, too, allowing a good amount of noise to pass through the earbuds while you’re listening to music – this feature can be adjusted in the accompanying app (more on that later).
Meanwhile, a cVc noise-cancelling mic inside each bud ensures calls sound crisp and clear.
Battery life, app, and connectivity
- Persistant connectivity issues
- Excellent battery life
- AAC, SBC, and aptX support
The Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch come with a whopping 50-hour battery life, with nine hours contained within the buds themselves and a further 41 hours provided by the charging case.
This isn’t quite as lengthy as the Lypertek Pure Play Z3 (Tevi)’s 70 hours, but the Melomania Touch are still far longer-lasting than most wireless earbuds on the market today.
Pairing straight out of the box was a nightmare, however, with only one bud connecting at a time on the rare occasion we were able to hook one up to our phone.
It wasn’t until we carried out a factory reset that we were able to connect both earbuds to our phone simultaneously. It’s worth mentioning that the two earbuds are designed to pair independently, so you can use one bud at a time, if you wish. However, we found that listening to music through both buds at the same time was impossible until that factory reset.
We were surprised to encounter such issues. With reports of connectivity problems plaguing the bud’s release earlier this year – that our friends at What Hi-Fi? detail in their review – Cambridge Audio issued a swift firmware upgrade and app update, which it claimed would fix the problem.
While connectivity was fine after performing the factory reset, it’s a shame that these buds didn’t work straight out of the box – and it seems like a lucky dip as to whether your buds will pair immediately or you’ll need to run a factory reset to use them.
Codec support includes aptX, AAC, and SBC, and while there’s no aptX HD support, you should be able to enjoy Hi-Res Audio files over a wireless connection.
As for the app, it’s easy to use, with a slick interface that displays the battery life of each earbud, allows you to use the ‘Find My Earphones’ feature if you’ve lost them, and activate the Transparency mode with a slider, providing lots of control over how much environmental noise comes through the buds.
There are also six EQ presets to play with, and the ability to create your own custom presets, allowing you to really tailor the sound to your tastes.
Should I buy the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch?
Buy them if…
You’re looking for the bassiest earbuds you can buy
The Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch provide an incredible bass response, in spite of their small size. Combine that with a wide soundstage and excellent rhythmic agility, and you have a great-sounding pair of wireless earbuds.
You need Hi-Res Audio support
Support for the aptX codec means you can stream Hi-Res Audio files using these earbuds, so your Tidal subscription won’t go to waste.
You want a long battery life
With nine hours onboard and a further 41 hours provided by the charging case, the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch are among the longest-lasting true wireless earbuds on the market.
Don’t buy them if…
You want easy connectivity
Connectivity is such a mixed bag with the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch that we wouldn’t recommend them for anyone who wants to pair their buds straight out the box.
You hate touch controls
The touch controls on the Melomania Touch can be overly sensitive, and they’ll just get on your nerves if you’re not a fan of the control method. Still, you can turn them off in the app, so using touch controls isn’t compulsory.
You want a very natural sound
Since the lower frequencies are so pronounced, those craving a very natural, audiophile sound may be turned off by the heavy bass provided by the Melomania Touch.