Real wireless earphones undergo an absolute revolution in 2019, with the battery life increasing enormously and prices falling rapidly. Cambridge Audio & # 39; s first access to the category, the Melomania 1is a great example of this trend, which costs $ 129.95, while it has nine hours of battery life at the top plus an incredible 36 extra hours in its small AirPods-like housing. I tested the Melomania for a few weeks, and I still haven't had to charge their case.
Verge The reader may remember Cambridge Audio from my review of the DacMagic XS, a small USB DAC and amplifier that essentially functions as an external sound card for PCs. But the company has a much deeper and longer history than that, with 50 years of experience in audio engineering that extends to speakers, amplifiers, AV receivers and even a wired earphone. With the future mainly in a wireless direction, the Melomania buttons arrive just in time to create a new niche for Cambridge Audio.
My expectations for these tops were not super high. They have a Micro USB charging connection, which I have been insisting since the end of 2017, and they are competitively priced to only sell their large battery life. As long as they can play sound, you would think that many people would buy them for just that long endurance. But Cambridge Audio has done a lot of good things in addition to the high power efficiency, because the Melomania has impressed me and surprised me on a number of fronts beyond their battery.
First, their case. This is the best earphone I have come across outside the case that Apple has designed for the AirPods. The Melomania housing is only marginally larger and fits in many more hours of extra costs. It has the same click microphone as the top cover of the AirPods, and I notice that I open it in a different way as I do with the Apple alternative. There is only excellent tactile quality for both products and both are incredibly stiff and sturdy. I appreciate the strong metal hinge and magnet that Cambridge Audio uses, and the five LEDs on the front give me an indication of the charge level of the case when I break it open.
The buttons themselves have a unique design. Each is a rotating cylinder, completely symmetrical and makes no ergonomic adjustments, and they seem to charge via a metal strip that sits around their belly like a belt (so no Pogo pins are required). I would describe their fit as very striking: I can find a comfortable way to put them in my ears, but my friends have discovered that their block-like shape is unnatural and a little weird to wear. I wouldn't say the Melomania ever caused discomfort, but they are far from the effortless comfort of something like Samsung's Galaxy Buds.
The flat exterior of each earphone is a multifunctional click button, framed by an LED indicator light that looks like a small halo. I like both, because I have seen too many good headphones spoiled by poor touch controls and the lights are elegantly integrated.
My biggest surprise came when I really listened to the Melomania, which are actually pretty good. This starts with good sound insulation, since the Melomania the Apple AirPods are far ahead when it comes to turning off outside noise. With these buttons I can still hear things around me and I am aware of my surroundings, but I also get a much better picture of the music I listen to as I walk through busy city streets.
The sound image, clarity and tonal balance that the Melomania offers are all better than normal for real wireless earphones. There is no inflated layer or overly sparkling highlight to speak of, and everything feels coherent and balanced. Voices sound natural and guitars sound like someone is strumming their strings. This does not mean that the Melomania is a kind of high-fidelity, audiophile-grade hardware, because it is not. They have their limitations and they sometimes have a little bit of fine grain detail. But even without reaching new heights of audio perfection, they're just a very easy listening experience that reminds me of Apple & # 39; s AirPods: not hi-fi or exceptional, but very enjoyable.
Cambridge Audio has also ensured the wireless performance of the Melomania, which maintains a flawless connection with both iPhones and Android devices. The buttons support Bluetooth 5 and AptX, AAC and SBC. They also have sufficient range, so you must be able to go to the office coffee maker and back without having to carry your phone in your pocket. It is just a great peace of mind not to worry that you will not interfere with the wireless signal from your headphones.
However, there is one thing that is terrible about these earphones, and that is their microphone performance. Even in a quiet room, the Melomania makes me sound like I'm calling somewhere far away from the midst of an electrical storm. The modestly built-in microphone of my MacBook Pro totally embarrasses the Melomania and Apple can be confident that the excellence of AirPods for taking calls is not being challenged by Cambridge Audio. In short, the Melomania are only for listening, with the microphones only for use in the most emergency situations or for barking orders with Siri or Google Assistant, depending on your connected device.
Regarding the claim that the battery life is long, I cannot fully verify it, because I just cannot get into a situation where I listen to real wireless buttons like the Melomania for nine hours. The only time I heard their "battery low" sound was when I first tried them when they were not charged. What this means in practice is that these buttons will cover you for the vast majority of listening scenarios, and their case also offers a reassuring top-up.
I am willing to forgive the Melomania Micro USB charging port when charging in their housing is so rare. I can see myself touring for a week without ever having a micro USB cable with me, trusting that the Melomania will have enough juice. And the obvious advantage of omitting USB-C is that Cambridge Audio has kept the price of the Melomania below that of the AirPods, which is absolutely necessary for anyone trying to compete with Apple's much better-known product .
There are actually only two disadvantages to the Melomania, but they are important. The ergonomics of these buttons are rather lacking, and their microphone performance is messy. If you can find a good fit, like me, and you don't really need a good microphone, or a good microphone, then these are pretty good. They eliminate fear of reach or endurance for anyone who does not really want to step into wireless wireless buttons, they have a very feasible price, they are very well built and they have a great small housing. Imperfect, but still very attractive.
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