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Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review

Plus-suffixed sequels with new features and big shoes to fill Tested at £120 / $140 / AU$185

5 Star Rating
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ review
(Image: © Cambridge Audio)

Our Verdict

Cambridge’s Award-winning recipe has been refined to include app support and extra sonic clarity and detail

For

  • Extra ounce of dynamic expression
  • Great clarity for the level
  • Slick app support

Against

  • No noise-cancelling

When Cambridge Audio announced a new model in its inaugural and two-time What Hi-Fi? Award-winning Melomania line-up, we heaved a collective sigh of relief. The Melomania 1 Plus (or Melomania 1+) promise the same look and feel of their decorated older sibling, the original Melomania 1, but with additional app support, customisable EQ settings and the British audio firm's innovative High-Performance Audio Mode.

There’s a new colourway, too – gone is the ‘stone’ grey hue we lovingly dubbed ‘NHS Grey’. Here, the upgrades are hard to spot to the naked eye, but then again, beauty is usually in the detail. The pricing hasn’t changed, with the Melomania 1 Plus launching at the now-traditional £120 ($140, AU$185).

So how good do they sound, and are they worth upgrading to?

Build and comfort

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ build

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

The fresh white finish of our Melomania 1 Plus charging case sample (also available in black) is a matte affair and a solid upgrade on its predecessor. It feels cool, tactile, more pebble-like and means that fingerprint smudges no longer collect on the perfectly sized case.

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus tech specs

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

Bluetooth version 5.0

Finishes x2

Battery life Up to 45 hours (low power)

Dimensions 2.7 x 1.5cm

Weight 5.6g (each)

The five-strong row of LEDs to indicate battery life remains, just below the snappy flip-top lid. The 'L' and 'R' on each earpiece, underneath the tiny LED light on each, are now written in electric blue lettering. You now get a USB-C fast charging port, too.

Although multiple ear tips were promised to ensure a secure fit, what Cambridge has done is double up on its standard small, medium and large offerings, so you now get two sets of each rather than one. 

There are also two sets of medium and large ‘memory foam’ options, but curiously  no small option. The memory foam tips are only supplied in black, too – the regular tips are white – which spoils the ice-white aesthetic somewhat.

The bullet-shaped buds are practically identical in build to the Melomania 1 – each weighs the same 4.6g, boasts IPX5 certification against rain and sweat, houses a 5.8mm graphene-enhanced driver and boasts Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity with aptX and AAC codec support.

Features

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ features

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

The Melomania 1 Plus boast up to nine hours of battery life on a single charge plus four extra charges from the case, which adds up to an impressive 45 hours of total playtime when in Low Power mode. In the default High-Performance mode, you’ll get seven hours from a charge or 35 hours in total courtesy of four more blasts from the case, which is still highly competitive.

Pairing is easy using the handy quick start guide. Only one earpiece needs to be paired on your device; the second bud (labelled ‘Handset’) will simply request a connection to it – and that only needs to be done once. During our tests, the connection between both units and our device remains secure and snag-free.

Possibly the biggest upgrade with this new iteration is support for the free Melomania app, which is now considerably more stable than it used to be. With it comes the ability to customise the EQ settings yourself or pick from six presets, check the battery level of each earbud, locate misplaced earbuds on a map, and receive firmware updates.

Touch controls here involve pressing the circular button on each bud and we find these intuitive and useful. Holding down the right one increases volume, while holding down the left lowers it – simple and effective. A single press of either earpiece starts or pauses playback, two skips forward a track (right earbud) or back a song (left earbud), and three presses of the right bud calls up Siri on our iPhone – although note that they can also access the Google Assistant.

These controls are so reliable that we rarely dig out our smartphone when testing them in transit. That should be a given, but it hasn’t always been our experience when testing competing buds at this price.

Cambridge has advised wearers to position the earpieces so that the recessed circle within the circular top surface of the driver housing is at its lowest point so that the MEMS mic in each bud can perform to its fullest. We do so and are able to enjoy clear voice calls.

The good news is that with low power mode deployed, you’ll get a performance that is on a par with the originals.

Sound

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ sound

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)

Switching back to High-Performance Audio and with all EQ levels unaltered, we’re treated to an impactful and expansive presentation of Kate Bush’s And Dream Of Sheep (a Tidal Master file). The keys feel three-dimensional in our left ear as Bush’s vocal soars through the frequencies centrally, backed by samples of seagulls, pared-back guitar picking, wind instruments and spoken word. When the brooding storm builds, the Melomania 1 Plus deliver it dutifully and with remarkable clarity for this level. This is a small but definite improvement on their older sibling for layering and detail.

Instruments such as the slinking bass, Wurlitzer and saxophone at the outset of Beck’s Debra are organised with precision and given an extra few yards of space within the mix, too. The low-level, call-to-action vocal before the verse is often lost in muddier bass registers of lesser headphones, but not here. Beck’s distinctive voice is emotive and held masterfully in check even as the intensity builds. Through the mids and treble, we’re aware of the step-up in terms of clarity and refinement over the original Melos.

Through heavier tracks such as Eminem’s Stan, the teeming rain sounds natural at the window as Stan’s scrawl cuts through with clarity, underpinned by an accurate and regimented bassline. There are marginal gains to be had over the originals in terms of the dynamic build too. The leading edges of notes are marginally cleaner in the updated set of in-ears, as demonstrated by the initial synth strings in Dr Dre’s Forget About Dre.

In our review of the five-star Panasonic RZ-S500W, we said that in direct comparison, the Cambridge product suffered marginally for detail. That balance is now redressed with the Melomania 1 Plus. Whether you prefer the Panasonic proposition over the Melomanias will likely come down to the former's noise-cancelling or teardrop design, neither of which feature in the Cambridges. But for an engaging, detailed, expansive listen, the Melomania 1 Plus are very much back in the running for best at this level.

Verdict

Cambridge’s compact, fuss-free and affordable design was a hit with us the first time around in 2019. The addition of a slicker paint-job, app support for EQ customisation and the step-up in sonic detail and refinement – without the anticipated price hike – only makes us want to heap extra praise upon the new Melomania 1 Plus.

While the original Melomania 1 can now be had for a significant discount, we’d still point you towards this updated model. There’s no noise-cancelling onboard, but those who don’t need it shouldn't hesitate to add these latest Melomanias to their shortlist.

SCORES

  • Sound 5
  • Comfort 4
  • Build 4

MORE:

Read our guide to the best wireless earbuds

Read our Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review

Read our Panasonic RZ-S500W review

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, New York and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


Read more about how we test

  • bristollinnet
    Every bloody day...

    Can you just launch 'What Ear Buds' and get this rubbish off what used to be a HiFi website?
    Reply
  • Tinman1952
    bristollinnet said:
    Every bloody day...

    Can you just launch 'What Ear Buds' and get this rubbish off what used to be a HiFi website?
    And also ‘What Mobile Phone’….? 😀
    Reply
  • Hmike
    Have you tried reading just the hifi reviews and ignoring the reviews that aren't relevant to you?
    Reply
  • Diff
    The Melomania 1 Plus has poor Bluetooth connection, suddenly cut off from time to time.

    Lack of bass, and no ANC and wireless charging.

    A bit outdated in terms of features compared with many mid end or low end competitor brands

    Sound is good but not to the level of great
    Reply
  • Big Glynski
    The sound is great, only if get them seated right in your ear, which can sometimes make them a little uncomfortable. Once you get the hang of fitting them correctly you really don't miss the lack of noise cancelling as they block out most sound anyway. Overall they are great headphones for the price and due to there small size can be worn unnoticed by most people, so handy for "stealth listening".
    Reply