Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Which wireless earbuds win?

Cambridge Audio's Melomania M100 has joined the increasingly crowded market of excellent flagship noise-canceling earbuds, which makes choosing the best wireless earbuds to buy even more complicated. Just when the Sony WF-1000XM5 looked like they were sitting at the top of the sector by a comfortable margin, along comes the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 with top-tier Bluetooth specs, astonishing sound quality with Lossless audio support, and noise canceling to challenge the top-ranking best noise-canceling earbuds.  

It's no secret that I've been using the Sony flagship earbuds since they launched, and have enjoyed their sound quality, particularly with LDAC streams from compatible devices.

Although the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100s don't support LDAC, they do support aptX Lossless and aptX Adaptive for higher-quality streams. Perhaps of more interest to budget-conscious buyers is that the Cambridge Audio flagship undercuts the Sony by a considerable margin. So with a similar feature set and high level of performance, are the M100s the mid-market buds to match the Sony? Read on to find out which flagship wireless noise-canceling earbuds are the best.

Hero image of Sony WF-1000XM5 with Cambridge Audio Melomania M100

(Image credit: Future)

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Specs compared

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sony WF-1000XM5Cambridge Audio Melomania M100
Price$299 / £259 / AU$499$219 / £169 / (approx. AU$335)
ColorsBlack, silverBlack (limited edition black/yellow option in U.K.)
Size2 x 0.21 inches Not specified
Weight0.2 ounces (per bud); 1.7 ounces (charging case)Not specified
Battery life (rated)8 hours (ANC on), 24 hours (with charging case), Quick charge provides up to 1 hour of playback from a 3-minute charge10 hours (ANC on); 36 hours (with charging case); Quick charge provides 2 hours playback from a 10 minutes charge
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC and LDACBluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC, aptX Lossless, aptX Adaptive Audio, Bluetooth LE Audio, LC3

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Price and availability

The Sony buds are priced at $299 / £259 / AU$499. That's at the top of the market's pricing structure, but they are stacked with features and high-level performance to showcase the maker's prowess. It's important to note that some of the best wireless earbuds I recommend for audiophile sound push prices even further.  

With a price tag of $219 / £169, the Melomania M100 are a great value and look like a sweet deal compared to Sony's more costly noise-canceling model. In terms of value, the M100s are one of the cheapest flagship noise-canceling buds I've seen — only the OnePlus Buds 3 Pro ($99 / £78 / AU$150) undercuts them. 

Winner: Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Design and fit

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 in charging case held in hand in a yard

(Image credit: Future)

Sony made the WF-1000XM5 25% smaller than the previous-gen XM4 earbuds, and as such some users may find the fit a bit tricky. They retain their traditional form, donning a simple rounded shape with a protruding ear tip. There are four foam tips supplied including a new XS size to ensure smaller ears can find the best seal. The WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds come in black and silver options only.

The Melomania M100 wireless earbuds are a much smaller design than their bullet-shaped predecessor. Although there are no dimensions or weights specified at the time of writing, they're approximately the same size and weight as Sony's WF-1000XM5 but the Sony's have a more rounded design. 

The Cambridge Audio's are supplied with three sizes of silicone tips: S, M, and L, and two sizes of memory foam tips: S and L. 

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Features

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 in hand with charging case in background

(Image credit: Future)

The Sony WF-1000XM5 have adaptive modes to dynamically control the level of active noise cancelation in your surroundings. Sony's ANC is more effective and gets close to the pool of silence achieved by the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds — the best noise-canceling earbuds overall.

Sony has 20 different Ambient Sound mode levels in its Headphones Connect app, while the Cambridge Audio has three noise canceling levels: High, Medium, and Low.

In terms of spatial audio support, the Sony earbuds offer Sony 360 Reality Audio support, while the Cambridge Audio buds don't have any kind of spatial audio tech. 

Sony's ear-detection sensors are also more reliable, and automatically pause playback when a bud is removed from your ear. Playback resumes once the earbuds are re-inserted. The Sony supports single-bud mode playback and appears to detect and enable single-mode automatically with just one bud inserted in the ear.

Wear detection is on board the M100s but playback is only paused when both earbuds are removed.  

While the XM5s have LDAC support for high-quality streams over Bluetooth from compatible devices, the Cambridge Audio's have aptX Lossless, aptX Adaptive, and Bluetooth LE Audio from compatible Android devices. They'll also be able to support Auracast audio-sharing in a future firmware update, making them among the first wireless earbuds to enable listeners to hear audio shared from nearby devices and Auracast-powered public transmitters at train stations and airports that can beam public announcements straight to the earbuds.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Controls

Sony WF-1000XM5 tips

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Both of these wireless earbuds offer tap commands to navigate playback, change volume and activate noise-canceling modes but I found my commands unreliable on the Melomania M100 Plus wireless earbuds, at least to begin with. The responses to my finger taps felt slow and delayed, resulting in a level of uncertainty about whether a command had been registered or not. Sadly, there's no audible feedback during playback navigation to acknowledge skip back or skip forward, or that volume commands via hold and single/double-press gestures have been received.

There are, however, voice commands assigned to noise-canceling, transparency and game modes. Users can choose from multiple audible feedback languages including tones as well as voice overs from the British actor and comedian Matt Berry.

Both models enable users to activate a device's native voice assistant, while the Sony's are also compatible with Alexa.

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Sound quality

Male wearing Cambridge Audio Melomania M100

(Image credit: Future)

I love the sound of the Sony WF-1000XM5, but my listening test comparisons with the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 make it hard to choose a winner. I've consistently found the Sony WF-1000XM5 one of the most rewarding listening experiences when it comes to high-quality audio over Bluetooth. Thanks to their LDAC support with compatible playback devices, they deliver the most engaging listening experiences I've heard from a compatible Android phone. Still, the Cambridge Audio buds sound even more musically engaging at times. 

Then there's Cambridge Audio's aptX Lossless audio capabilities, which improve on LDAC to deliver close to CD-quality over Bluetooth, but the hardware that supports it is pretty limited so far.

Cambridge Audio has filled the M100 with custom 10mm drivers matched with Class AB amplification derived from audio specialist's CX Series Hi-Fi amplifiers. The combination is a sound triumph with the larger-sized drivers achieving deep bass and an engaging soundstage that hits the sweet spot for my ears. I'm enthralled by the amount of space there is around instruments and the expansive soundstage these buds create between my ears.

Sony WF-1000XM5 worn by Tom's Guide Audio Editor Lee Dunkley

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Overall I am leaning more towards the sound of the Cambridge Audio, but I'm going to call it a tie as they both have spectacular sound capabilities and it will come down to the sonic signature you prefer.

Winner: Tie

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: ANC

Competition for the best noise-canceling earbuds is extremely tough. Sony's WF-1000XM5 achieve remarkably strong noise-canceling tech that ranks them close to the class-leading Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds. Sony claims they reduce ambient noise significantly more than their predecessor. That's difficult to measure, but the combination of Sony's more powerful V2 chipset and HD Noise Canceling processor delivers remarkably effective results.

Cambridge Audio doesn't make any similar claim, but they hold their own even if they don't quite block out external sounds to the same level. With Active Noise Canceling enabled, it was still possible to pick out occasional sounds from the Sonos speaker playing along in my home office and neighbours working in the yard. 

Winner: Sony WF-1000XM5 

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Battery life

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 in charging case held in hand in a yard

(Image credit: Future)

While the battery life of earbuds will vary depending on how you use them, the Sony WF-1000XM5 averages 8 hours of listening with ANC on and 12 hours off. The charging case can hold up to 24 hours of total charge.

The Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 earbuds give one of the longest ANC playback times among elite models. They claim up to 10 hours of playback from just a single charge with ANC activated, or 16 hours with ANC switched off, which makes them more powerful than the Sony buds. Cambridge Audio says that users will get more than two full charges from the case. 

Both the XM5 and M100 have charging cases with USB-C ports at the back and have Qi wireless charging support.

The battery life on Sony's wireless earbuds falls short compared to the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100, which last longer with ANC enabled.

Winner: Cambridge Audio Melomania M100

Sony WF-1000XM5 vs Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Verdict

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Header Cell - Column 0 Sony WF-1000XM5Cambridge Audio Melomania M100
Price and value (5)45
Design (15)1213
Controls (10)98
Sound quality (25)2424
Active noise cancelation (20)1916
Call quality (10)88
Connectivity (5)45
Battery life (10)89
Total score (100)8888

The Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 buds are shaking up the best wireless earbuds market thanks to their balance of features, performance and attractive price point. Although there are some key differences, the M100s really do give the Sony WF-1000XM5 a run for the money. 

Although I'd be happy to listen to either model playing my Tidal playlist for hours on end, the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100s are likely to keep me listening for longer. 

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Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.