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Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: First-rate mid-range wireless earbuds

Our Rating :
£169.00 from
Price when reviewed : £169
inc VAT

The Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 sound great, are very well specified and very much worthy of your attention


  • Expansive, detailed sound
  • Great specification
  • ‘Celebrity’ audible feedback


  • ANC is nothing special
  • Tiny lack of top-end energy
  • Not short of competition

Cambridge Audio has been on a roll over the last few years and that’s just as well because a company needs to be either confident or foolhardy to want to try and take a meaningful share of the ever-expanding market for true wireless earbuds.

The Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 are the company’s first earbuds to have active noise cancellation, and they have plenty more going for them, too. Given the asking price, they’re very well specified (with Class AB amplification a geek-tastic highlight), have good battery life, plenty of control options and, best of all, lively and confident sound that doesn’t sneer at low-resolution content. They’re comfortable, properly built and finished and their IPX4 rating means they will withstand a sweaty workout and rain.

Their noise cancellation didn’t blow me away during testing and there’s a slightly lax attitude about how they deal with the top of the frequency range. But when you put these grumbles against everything the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 do well, it’s obvious the company has created another properly competitive product.

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: What do you get for the money?

There are dozens and dozens of brands producing wireless earbuds, ranging from the deeply credible to the frankly implausible. Not only does Cambridge Audio fit neatly in the credible category, but with the Melomania M100 it’s delivered an extremely well-specified and aggressively priced product.

Forking out £169 gets you a properly built, nicely finished and ergonomically shaped pair of earbuds that travel in a slim charging case that’s slightly longer than the norm. It buys some Class AB amplification (for far more hardcore hi-fi credibility than the typical Class D), which drives a couple of 10mm full-range dynamic drivers that use recycled neodymium in their magnets.

And it buys very competitive battery life: ten hours with active noise cancellation switched on, and 16 if you leave it off. The case holds a further two full charges, and ten minutes on charge is enough for two hours of ANC-assisted action, while you’ll get a full charge (using either the case’s USB-C socket or any Qi-certified charging pad) in 150 minutes.

There are also several well-implemented and reliable control options. The Melomania control app indicates remaining battery life, lets you check for firmware updates and grants you access to a seven-band EQ with six presets and the option of saving some custom settings. It also enables you to switch on Gaming mode for optimum audio/video synchronisation, and adjust your ANC options between Normal (off), Transparency (with High, Low and Voice-focus settings) and Noise Cancelling (with High, Moderate or Low positions). The app also allows you to enable or disable specific touch controls.

The touch controls are available via a large capacitive surface on the top of each earbud. All major functionality is catered for, including play/pause, track skipping, volume and call controls and the ability to hail your voice assistant.

Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth 5.3, and the M100 are compatible with the aptX Lossless codec, so a truly lossless 16-bit/44.1kHz resolution is available (if you have a source player able to deliver it) as well as lossy 24-bit/96kHz using aptX Adaptive. Compatibility with Auracast and the low-power LE Audio codec is promised in a future over-the-air firmware update.

The earbuds are IPX4-rated against splashes and dust, and a comfortable fit is easily achievable using your choice of the supplied eartips (three silicone and two foam pairs are included in the box).

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Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: What did we like about them?

First and foremost, the Melomania M100 are a very enjoyable listen. In absolute terms they’re a little less vigorous at the top of the frequency range than they are at the bottom – but this can be limited, if not eradicated, by judicious use of the seven-band EQ adjuster. And besides, it’s not like the world is short of listeners who like a little low-frequency emphasis.

Equally welcome is that they’re an enjoyable and entertaining listen no matter the type of music you like to listen to nor, to a lesser extent, the size of the digital audio file you serve them. They’re happier using the aptX Adaptive codec to deal with a big FLAC file from TIDAL, but if push comes to shove they won’t look down their nose at some 320Kbits/sec nonsense from Spotify. In every circumstance, the M100 try to make the best of things.

Their powers of midrange communication, for instance, are prodigious. I found the vocal line in Julian Cope’s “Leperskin” full of detail – his technique, character, brave efforts to stay in key and character were all communicated superbly. The voice is integrated nicely into the presentation as a whole but also has a little pocket of space in which to operate, so it never sounds isolated or estranged.

The treble presentation above has a degree of attack, and there’s plenty of shine without any suggestion of edginess or hardness. The top end is just slightly pedestrian compared to the confident, deep and varied low-frequency performance, but while bass sounds enjoy good rhythmic expression and a proper sensation of momentum thanks to the control of their attack and decay, they don’t tilt the emphasis of the sound. The overall presentation is balanced, organised and, above all, musical.

There’s not a huge amount going on in dynamic terms in this recording – everything that happens happens at a very similar volume and level of intensity from start to finish. But switch to a Qobuz-derived file of Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s “Watergate Blues” and the greater dynamic variation allows the earbuds to put worthwhile distance between the quieter moments of the recording and its moments of club-footed attack.

This piece is equally useful for demonstrating the facility the M100 have with low-level harmonic variations, as well as the close attention they pay to minor, transient details – the sound of Kirk’s embouchure, for instance, is picked up on almost as readily as the sound of the instrument he’s blowing.

The feed-forward/feedback mic arrangement works well where call quality is concerned, ensuring both ends of a conversation are clean and distinct. Similarly, interactions with voice assistants are reliable and responsive – unless you’re using Bixby.

Comfort, too, is very good – and stays that way over the long haul. This is just as well, considering the Melomania M100 will last through the longest long-haul flights (as long as you keep that ANC switched off). The control app and the touch controls are both stable and reliable, and the amount of flexibility and functionality in the app is very welcome, too.

In one very specific sense, the best thing about the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 is buried in the Audible Feedback options in the control app. For confirmation of pairing, the level of ANC that’s engaged and so on, the app offers several options – you can turn them off altogether, have tones tell you what’s what, or select from eight different languages. If you consider Southwark distinct from English, you have nine language options – and it turns out that Southwark means Matt Berry. If you’re familiar with Matt Berry, you don’t need me to tell you what an unalloyed pleasure this feature is; if you’re not, you have an unexpected treat in store.

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Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: What could be improved?

Cambridge Audio is late to the active noise cancellation party where its true wireless headphones are concerned, and having finally implemented it, the company now must understand what every other company with a dog in this particular fight is up against. Here, as everywhere else, the problem is Bose.

The Melomania M100 do a decent job of cancelling external sounds (when ANC is set to High) without shifting their sonic position or introducing any sensation of counter-signal. But they can’t eradicate the sound of the outside world – and so must occupy that second tier where every half-decent pair of ANC true wireless in-ears that aren’t made by Bose lives.

Other than that, though, only the slight lack of high-frequency energy and sparkle is worth mentioning – and even then, this is more of a trait than a shortcoming. One of the most enjoyable things about the sound of the M100 is the energy and drive they summon, but these fall away just a little when the earbuds are dealing with treble sounds. There’s shine and some bite to the top end, and in some ways, this attitude is preferable to all-out attack, but it’s made to sound slightly pedestrian compared to the vigour of everything happening in the rest of the frequency range.

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: Should you buy them?

The Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 have a lot going for them on the recommendation front. In every meaningful respect – sound quality, battery life, comfort, ergonomics – they’re never less than competitive compared to their best price-comparable rivals.

In the sound of Matt Berry’s voice, they have a definite point of difference and a feature that I am confident will never get old. So even though you are spoiled for choice where true wireless in-ear headphones with active noise-cancellation costing between £150 and £200 are concerned, you need to add the Melomania M100 to your shortlist – a list that’s getting longer by the day.

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