Ooo, a package from British brand, Cambridge Audio landed on my desk just before Christmas, with an Embargo until today. That was fine, that gave me plenty of time to try these new TWS earbuds out and spoilers, I’m blown away!
- Upto 50hour battery live (9hr per charge)
- Melomania App for EQ/customisation
- Transparency mode
- HiFi grade amplification
- Bluetooth 5.0, AptX, AAC
- Dual microphones with voice assistant support
- IPX4 (splash resistant)
- “The perfect fit” with various sized wings and buds
The earbuds come nicely packaged, with a personal message on the inside from CA’s CEO, James Johnson-Flint, including his email address, and he wants to hear from you, us, the users, with any feedback, positive or negative, so they can better their products for us, which is bold, but I respect that. In the box, you get the earbuds, the charging case, a USB A to C cable for charging, and the replacement buds and wings. There are six total traditional rubber buds, two small, two medium, and two large (one medium pre-installed), which offer some backup, in case you lose one, or they need replacing. There are also three rubber wings too, small, medium, and large (again, medium pre-installed), which will help you get the best fit for your ears.
The earbuds and case come in two colours, black or white. The earbuds themselves look fantastic and a pleasant alternative to the traditional look. They do in fact resemble in-ear monitors, as they cover the entire inner part of your ear. What is odd, is the box actually calls them ‘True Wireless In-Ear Monitors’ but everything else states earphones or earbuds. Perhaps these could be in-ear monitors if connected up correctly. I digress.
Each earbud has the traditional rubber bud on the tip, then a thicker, more supportive rubber wing, to help keep the earbud secure and I’m so glad they’ve included this, as I am a huge fan of the extra wing support. The face of the earbud is either a glossy black or white, with subtle branding and the tiniest indicator light on, which will flash various colours depending on what’s happening. The earbuds are touch control and the entire glossy area is touch-sensitive.
As for the case, it has this faux leather effect/feel to it, which is quite nice to touch and not something I’ve seen on a case before. There are five indicator lights to the front, which illuminate white when the case is opened and shows battery level for the case. The inside of the case is like any other, two molds for the earbuds, that magnetically connect to allow each bud to charge. There is a USB C port at the rear of the case for charging. There is no wireless charging with these.
The earbuds look fantastic, the case not so much.
Set up is like any other pair of Bluetooth earbuds or headphones, take them out of the case, they’ll going into pairing mode, and then connect to your smart device. However, CA has provided a free app, specifically for the Melomania Touch, and maybe their older Melomania products too (but I don’t have them).
Note, I used the app via test flight and is/was still in development or unreleased to the app store during testing.
That being said, I found the app performance to be very good and have yet to come across any bugs or issues. Open the app up and on the home screen, it shows your earbud connection and the battery life for each earbud. Yes, one battery level for left, one for right, and what was fascinating, was the left’s battery level went down quicker than the right. Also on the home screen, you can activate the transparency mode and also ‘find my earphones’. Transparency mode is a simple on/off and then you can slide between 0 and 100%, depending on how much external audio you want to allow in.
Find my location, a classic feature and it runs off Google maps. It appears to work and the app picks up my location fine but I wouldn’t put too much faith in it helping you locate them if lost.
The app includes an equalizer for the earbuds and it’s great. There are six presets and three custom profiles, which you can edit and save. Clicking between the six presets, the profile change is instant in the earbuds, allowing you to very quickly understand which preset is best for which song. Above the presets are five white dots, which symbolise the EQ options between bass, mid and treble. Slide them up and down to build your own sound profile and save it out. Again, sliding up and down, the change is instant in the earbuds, no need to save and wait for them to transfer or update. It’s all very efficient and I love it.
There are some other features within the app too, like firmware updates, which I did have the first time I booted up the app. I ran the update, it does one earbud at a time and then resets. I had to put the earbuds back in the case, take them out, and reconnect after the update. You can also turn on/off which touch controls can be used, code selection, and change audio modes. There are two audio modes, high performance, and low power. Low power offers up the battery life stated above of circa 50 hours. Change it to high performance and that will reduce to 40/7hrs. I did swap between the two and there is no way I’m keeping them in low power mode to save some battery. 7 & 40 hours is just fine with me.
Audio performance from the Melomania Touch is superb and one of the best I’ve ever heard in the under £200 price range. They are also way under that price bracket, they retail at just £129.99, about the same price as the standard Airpods but so much better.
I listened to a variety of tracks, chart stuff, country, some smooth jazz, paired with their associated EQs or custom ones, and the songs just came to life. Now, the specifics depend on which profile your using with your audio but let’s take some classic Kayne, College Dropout, with the R&B profile. The bass kicks, the snare snaps, I’m hearing guitars, while the voice is crystal clear. At this price point, it’s the best sound stage I’ve heard and we’re starting to talk high fidelity audio.
What is annoying, is having to open your phone, open the app, and switch to the appropriate EQ profile. For an album or genre playlist, I’d probably do it but for a few songs, I’d likely just keep it in balanced EQ.
“The default High Performance Audio Mode uses the same method of amplification found in the company’s award-winning CX range of hi-fi amplifiers, and Cambridge Audio’s engineers have been able to deliver that high level of audio fidelity in these true wireless earbuds – a groundbreaking achievement. This means you can enjoy an even greater soundstage, lower noise and a higher dynamic range than ever before with Melomania Touch.”
“Custom Cambridge Audio 7mm drivers are enhanced with graphene, a lightweight material selected by Cambridge Audio’s engineers for its outstanding strength and rigidity. These qualities offer the dynamism and response needed to deliver the Melomania Touch’s incredible sound quality – resulting in deeper controlled bass, realistic voices and clearer highs.”
Transparency mode worked a lot better than some others I’ve tested before and it was a little odd. At 50%, I’d only notice the odd car go past when outside but while sitting at my desk writing this, putting it up to 100%, I can hear my keyboard taps. Turn it back down to 50% and they’re gone, so it’s very obvious this mode works, it works well and can be accurately adjusted to suit your hearing and/or needs. There is a voice prompt when turning the mode on and off.
There is no active noise cancellation with these but the passive is enough and I really dont feel these need them.
As for the touch controls, they work well and as mentioned above, you can actually decide which controls you want active or not. By default, they are all on and they are all detailed on a handy little business like card within the box. In brief, a single tap on either ear is play/pause, right double tap is next track, left double tap is previous track. Volume up is hold on right, volume down is hold on left and triple tap turns the transparency mode on or off. There are also various commands for calls and voice assistants too. The controls work well, the area of sensitivity is actually quite large, compared to others I’ve tried, which helps and the responsiveness between touch and action happening is good. As you hold down for the volume control, it fluidly raises or lowers, it’s very neat.
Battery life was positive but I couldn’t achieve the figures stated by CA, unfortunately. During testing, I only really had it on performance mode, apart from about 20 minutes, where I tried low power mode. Realistically, I was achieving circa 5, maybe 6 hours of battery life in the earbuds, and likely 30+hours with the case. From the initial full charge of the case, I’m down to 3 lights, which would indicate the battery level is at about 50% and I’ve easily used the earbuds for several hours.
The only issue I’ve come across is when play/pausing the track. I’d hit the right earbud, the right would pause before the left and the left would unpause before the right. It’s not a deal-breaker but it would be good for them both to pause and unpause simultaneously.
I absolutely love the Melomania Touch. They sound fantastic, they look just as good, they’re ever so comfortable and secure enough for use during exercising. They work pretty flawlessly and the add-on app is a big bonus. The best part? The price! At just under £130, they’re a steal. Move aside AirPods, once people know about these, you’re done for. They do not include ANC, which I think is fine at this price point. Perhaps the next installment will include them if enough people email the CEO asking for it…
They are available now, via Amazon, Richer Sounds and direct from the official Cambridge Audio website.