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Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch review: A superb-sounding pair of affordable earbuds

Ben Johnston
1 Aug 2022
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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
100
inc VAT

Though relatively light on features, the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch sound fantastic and are extremely comfortable, too

Pros 
Extensive battery life
Phenomenal audio quality
Effective transparency mode
Cons 
Light on features
Over-eager touch controls
Firmware updates are frustrating
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Given the Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch sit alongside the five-star-rated Melomania 1 Plus in the UK brand’s earbuds lineup, they have their work cut out to convince you to buy them ahead of their stablemates. Their case isn’t helped by the fact that, at the time of writing, the 1 Plus are available for a bargain price of just £50.

But the Touch are a fine pair of true wireless earbuds in their own right and cater for a slightly different audience. They have a completely different design, boast better total battery life, incorporate a handy transparency mode and, as their name suggests, favour touch controls over depressible buttons.

Those titular touch controls aren’t quite as consistent as they could be, however, so despite the Melomania Touch sounding fantastic, most people are better off opting for the discounted Melomania 1 Plus instead.

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

The Melomania Touch originally launched at £130 but saw a permanent price cut to under £100 before Black Friday last year. They’re available in either black or white, and operate over Bluetooth 5.0, with codec support extending to SBC, AAC and aptX. The buds are rated IPX4, meaning they can handle splashes of rain or sweat, and so is the accompanying charging case, which isn’t true of a lot of wireless earbuds.

Design-wise, the Melomania Touch look very different to the Melomania 1 Plus. Instead of simple cylindrical buds, the Touch use contoured drums that conform closely to the shape of your ears. Silicone eartips are complemented by matching earfins to help achieve a more secure fit, and a generous selection of both are provided to ensure all sizes of ears are catered for. The glossy outside of each earbud is home to a touch-sensitive panel, offering the usual bevvy of functions, including playing/pausing, skipping tracks and hailing your phone’s voice assistant.

Despite coming in a little heavier than the 1 Plus – each bud is around 5.9g, while the case is 56g – the Touch are still reasonably discreet when in your ears, and the ovaline case is nicely pocketable, too. With a coating of vegan-friendly microfibre leather, it also looks stylish and feels tactile. Best of all, the case boosts the seven hours of playback offered by the buds up to an impressive total of 40 hours. There’s no wireless or fast charging, but charging the case from empty only takes a couple of hours.

The battery life stated above is for High Performance audio mode, and while you can technically eke out around ten more hours of playtime from the Low Power setting, it will rarely be the case that you’ll want to. Trading the sonic power and spacious soundstage of High Performance mode for more stamina is fine in a pinch, but the app requires a system software update each time you switch, often making this mode more effort than it’s worth.

Switching between Low Power and High Performance is just one of the useful features offered by the Melomania app. You can also choose between available codecs, enable and disable individual controls and tinker with the five-band graphic equaliser, saving up to three custom profiles of your own or choosing from six presets: Neutral, Immersive, R&B, Electronic, Rock and Voice. Finally, there’s the Transparency mode, which filters in ambient sound to keep you aware of your surroundings.

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Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch review: What do we like about them?

Before I get to the Melomania Touch’s biggest strength, it’s worth highlighting that their design works on just about every level. The teardrop-shaped buds look better and are more comfortable than the Melomania 1 Plus, and the case is slim, environmentally friendly and premium-looking. It’s an overall aesthetic that’s significantly more appealing than many of the other buds available for the same money.

But looks aren’t everything, and fortunately the Melomania Touch have the audio chops to back up their eye-catching design. Nestled beneath those pristine exteriors, each bud houses a 7mm “Graphene-enhanced” driver and though that may not sound particularly big, these things are mighty. Audio is engaging in the Low Power mode but High Performance is where things really get exciting.

The first thing you notice with this profile is just how expansive the soundstage is, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra’s rendition of “Go the Distance” from Disney’s Hercules served to highlight this perfectly. It’s a composition with a lot going on, with blasts of brass, swells of strings and pulses of percussion. The Melomania Touch articulated each element with exceptional detail, and not a single note was lost along the way.

Returning to my regular testing schedule, the Touch proved adept at handling dynamic shifts with Rise Against’s “Prayer of the Refugee”, launching from the relatively low-key opening verse into the raucous chorus with plenty of agility and energy. Articulation in the mid-range remained composed when things got chaotic, with crisp treble and punchy bass complementing the vocals from either side, without ever suffocating them.

Although there’s no active noise cancellation, the silicone ear tips do an excellent job isolating sound and passively blocking out the world around you. The Touch also feature one of the best transparency modes I’ve come across. Offering a sliding scale that allows you to fine-tune the level of pass-through, Transparency filtered crisp and clear audio in with my music, loud enough for me to easily hear people speaking. There’s a bit of a background hiss at the most powerful setting but my music mostly drowned this out, and you’re unlikely to set Transparency that high too often anyway.

Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch review: What could be improved?

It’s fortuitous that Cambridge Audio implemented a user-friendly approach to customising the touch controls within its companion app, as I quickly found myself needing to disable the single-tap function. The controls themselves work well enough, but the touch-sensitive panels seem to cover the entire outer surface of the buds and are extremely sensitive, meaning that any time I adjusted the buds in my ears, I would accidentally pause the audio.

When I’ve run into this problem before, I’ve usually been able to fall back on wear detection for playing/pausing, but that feature is unfortunately absent here. Equally, despite the highly effective passive noise cancellation, the lack of ANC is another mark against the Melomania Touch. Though not ubiquitous in the budget market, both wear detection and ANC are available on other sub-£100 models such as the Oppo Enco Free 2 and the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini, so it would have been nice to see them included here.

The only other issue I experienced when testing the Melomania Touch was the app crashing when I tried to install a firmware update. I was able to get around this by completely disconnecting the buds from my phone and then initiating pairing again with the opposite earbud. As this problem is limited to new firmware updates, it’s not going to affect your day-to-day use, but the solution was long-winded enough for it to be irritating.

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Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch review: Should you buy them?

The Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch look better and are more comfortable than their stablemates the 1 Plus and come with the added bonus of a highly effective transparency mode. They also offer touch controls, which will increase their appeal for some, though these are a little too sensitive, so you’ll likely want to disable single taps within what is an impressive companion app.

Audio quality is excellent, too, particularly in High Performance mode, while the absence of power-hungry features such as active noise cancellation and wear detection allows the Touch to keep going longer than many of their rivals. The trouble is, they count their stablemates the Melomania 1 Plus among those rivals, and those earbuds are currently available for half the price. If and when that deal ends, the choice between the two pairs will likely come down to stylistic preference, but as it stands, the 1 Plus are the smarter pick for most people.

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