Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: doing more with less

These earbuds are some great mid-rangers

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(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 are some extremely persuasive mid-range earbuds, which punch a little above their weight in terms of sound, and outperform almost any competition on battery life.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Outstanding battery life

  • +

    Really good sound

  • +

    Great features

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    ANC is fine but transparency isn't great

  • -

    Comfort levels could be higher

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Cambridge Audio has been something of a connoisseur's choice in personal audio in the last few years, pumping out great-value options that have ranked among the best cheap earbuds going.

Now it's going for a more premium price tag with the new Melomania M100 earbuds, and I've been using them for a couple of weeks to fully test them out. Are these fancier in-ears the best wireless earbuds to add to your shortlist?

Cambridge Audio M100: Price & Availability

To pin the Melomania M100 as fully premium would be to mislead slightly - these earbuds are available now and cost £160 in the UK or $219 in the USA (they're not available in Australia, sadly).

That puts them in a middle ground of sorts - more expensive than the entry-level, for sure, but not truly at the top end of what's out there. In a way that makes them more attractive to some extent, undercutting the super-pricey competition while offering many of the same features. 

Cambridge Audio M100 review: Design & Features

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(Image credit: Future)

The Melomania M100 are an interesting-looking set of earbuds, much more involved in their visual design than some of Cambridge Audio's past earbuds, which are knowingly simpler.

They have a sort of bulbous look to them, each with a fingerprint-esque dip on the outside of the earbud, and a tip that nestles into your ear.

The case is standard pillbox shape, made of plastic and with a few LED lights to give you an indication of battery levels.

The earbuds look pretty stealthy in the ear, although they're not the smallest I've ever tried. With a few eartips in the box to select from, you've got a choice of fits, too.

That box is worth a mention, in fact - I'm rarely bothered by packaging, but the commitment to zero plastic, in this case, did impress, with a really nice unboxing experience that was heightened by the knowledge it's sustainably sourced.

On the features side of things, Cambridge Audio has managed to put together a hugely impressive laundry list of options, not the least of which is active noise-cancelling (ANC).

Perhaps the most impressive boast the Melomania M100 can levy on paper is that it has a 10-hour battery life with that ANC turned on, a marker that outclasses most of the competition - even at more expensive prices.

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(Image credit: Future)

Those 10 hours rise to an astonishing 16 if you dispense with ANC, more than enough to see you through any full day of listening. With two full charges in the case, too, it's a pretty remarkable offering.

There are a whole host of codecs on board for those who want the latest and greatest - comprising SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive - and you also get Bluetooth 5.3 for some good low-latency chops.

Charging is via USB-C or wirelessly, and a 10-minute cabled fast-charge feature will give two hours of ANC listening or four hours without.

These lists of features don't always translate to perfect implementation in my experience, though, but this time around Cambridge Audio has done a great job of making the right choices - I've been waiting for this sort of battery life in some great earbuds for ages, for one!

Another box ticked comes in the form of IPX4 splash-proofing that should make these earbuds safe to wear while you exercise, or on a rainy walk.

Comfort has a small asterisk attached - these are fairly nice to wear, but there's something about their shape that made them not quite as seamless and easy to forget as others I've tried. Still, the fact that they also look nice is a great bonus, although the real test comes in the listening.

Still, I've kept the best for last. For all these excellent meaningful additions, perhaps the most memorable choice Cambridge Audio made was hiring cult actor Matt Berry as a voice option for its audio feedback. Take it on trust that his bizarro deliveries are just the way to make turning ANC on or off truly enjoyable - it's majestic stuff.

Cambridge Audio M100 review: Sound & Performance

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(Image credit: Future)

With the Melomania M100 earbuds actually in the ear, Matt Berry's dulcet tones aside, it quickly becomes apparent that these are very accomplished mid-rangers.

Sound quality for music is clean and spacious by default, with a nice detailed soundstage that you can appreciate in clear listening conditions.

I leaned into things by trying out some of Matt Berry's own impressively varied music and found it nicely rendered, while Justice's funky new singles sounded superb too: clean and undistorted, albeit with the slight lack of bass that is common to plenty of earbuds.

In less-than-clear situations, of course, ANC is your ally, and Cambridge Audio has done a lot better than some competitors in fitting genuinely solid cancelling to a mid-range design. It muffles things decently and made multiple long train rides from Edinburgh to London and back fade into the background nicely.

Swapping back to Apple's AirPods Pro for comparison, it was clear that Apple's ANC is still noticeably better, and that will likely be true of other more expensive earbuds, but that's no unforgivable sin.

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(Image credit: Future)

What's less superb is the transparency mode, the unfortunate sibling of ANC. I've tested too many mediocre transparency options already, and this is another - it makes the world around you sound bizarre, and while you can certainly hear more, it's not a homerun compared to just turning down the volume.

Battery life lived up to its billing in testing, too, with long hours stretching without the faintest threat of a recharge being needed, and a smidge of mobile gaming on Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile made latency seem like no issue, either.

Connectivity was simple and easy to control, too, and while the accompanying Melomania app won't blow anyone away it's still pretty handy.

There are equalizer (EQ) options which are vital for some listeners, and I hugely appreciate the option to both edit touch-controls or turn them off completely. The M100 are the faintest bit spotty on touch detection, so being able to just ignore that whole issue by turning it off is something I really value.

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: Verdict

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(Image credit: Future)

The Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 are some extremely persuasive mid-range earbuds, which punch a little above their weight in terms of sound, and a battery life that outperforms almost any of the competition. 

The true wireless earbuds market is more than bustling, however, so to pick these over any other is going to be a matter of preference. It could be worth it just for Matt Berry's included voiceover, though, to be fair...

Also consider

While they're not quite the same, the Melomania M100's price isn't far off Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro, and if you're on an iPhone it's hard to ignore how convenient they are, albeit with much worse battery performance. 

Alternatively, if you want acceptable ANC and fancy saving even more money, consider Nothing's Ear (2), which are great.

Max Freeman-Mills

Max is a freelance writer with years of experience in tech and entertainment. He's also a gaming expert, both with the games themselves and in testing accessories and consoles, having flexed that expertise at Pocket-lint as a features editor. He has tested all manner of tech too, from headphones and speakers to apps and software.