Formlabs Form 4 review

Formlabs has earned a reputation as the go-to machine for businesses needing a cost-effective and reliable 3D printer for a wide array of applications, from prototyping to medical and mechanical uses. 

The vast selection of specialist materials and a high-quality ecosystem that includes wash and cure machines as well as a finishing station make this one of the most complete and user-friendly options on the market. Form 3+ and Form 4 occupy a niche with few direct competitors; many professional-level machines cost tens of thousands of dollars, while the best 3D printers at cheaper end of the market is great for hobbies but often lacks the consistency and reliability for heavy professional use.

First and foremost, Form 4, with the PreForm software and dashboard, makes preparing and uploading work easy, whether it’s a new iteration of a prototype or a small product production run. The flexibility of the range of materials allows you to go from quick printing with general-purpose V5 materials to silicone, elastic, and biocompatible materials, providing a solution for almost any intended end-use.

In this review, we’ve focused on the standard and most affordable V5 materials to see what this printer is capable of, and from the outset, the Form 4 impresses with some of the speediest, most accurate, and detailed prints we’ve seen from any 3D printer yet.

Formlabs Form 4: Design

Formlabs Form 4

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

It’s worth noting from the outset that while the Form 4 hints at the Formlabs design of previous printers, it is a completely different machine with a host of new features and technology. The overall design still features the flip-up orange protective lid and a build platform on the Z-axis with a quick release, very similar to the Form 3+. At the back, there is a slot for the resin cartridge. These cartridges look smaller but still contain a litre of material but in a more compact design than those seen with the Form 3+. 

These resin cartridges function in the same way once dropped into the machine with a rubber bung at the bottom that is squeezed by the machine to release the resin. This time, however, the resin cartridges’ contents can be easily seen through a transparent window in the machine—a small design touch that can make a big difference in the workplace. The resin tank has also been redesigned with an improved mixer that clicks into place.

Formlabs Form 4

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Like Form 3+, the front of the machine has a large touchscreen interface that enables users to adjust settings, run maintenance procedures, and re-run past prints, among other tasks.

The biggest design difference for the Form 4 is the switch from Low Force Stereolithography (LFS) used by Form 3+ to Masked SLA (MSLA) technology. This new method leverages a custom LCD and LED-based backlight to cure entire layers of resin at once, significantly improving both speed and accuracy.

Formlabs Form 4: Features

Formlabs Form 4

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Formlabs has developed the technology used in the latest model of the Form printer to meet technological advancements. As such, the machine has moved away from Low Force Stereolithography (LFS)—a technology that previously gave the company’s machines an edge in accuracy. However, that accuracy can now be matched by the latest LCDs, and the Form 4 introduces a new Low-Force Display (LFD) Print Engine that utilizes a custom LCD and LED backlight system. This system strikes a balance between high speed and high precision.

The integration of Masked Stereolithography (MSLA) technology in this new machine enables faster curing of entire resin layers rather than just pinpoint areas, significantly boosting print speeds compared to the method used by the Form 3+ SLA printer.

One of the major advances enabled by this new system is high dimensional accuracy, achieving a 50 µm XY resolution similar to the Form 3+. This ensures detailed and accurate prints with smooth surface finishes suitable for functional part production runs.

Although initially appearing similar to its predecessor’s resin tank, the new version incorporates several changes to aid printing speed. One of the main features is the release texture of the film, which helps to minimize adhesion forces, improve compatibility with various resins, and reduce print failures.

All resin printers can make handling resin messy; to facilitate workflow and ease of use, Form 4 includes smart sensors for automatic resin dispensing, which should lead to fewer failures.

Specs

Print Technology: Masked Stereolithography (MSLA) with Low Force Display (LFD) print engine
Build Area: 145 × 145 × 185 mm (5.7 × 5.7 × 7.3 in)
Minimum Layer Resolution: 25 µm
Maximum Layer Resolution: 300 µm
Dimensions: 405 × 375 × 530 mm (15.9 × 14.8 × 20.9 in)
Weight: 17.5 kg (38.6 lbs)
Bed: Removable Build Platform
Print Surface: Flexible Resin Tank with Release Texture
Software: Formlabs PreForm Software and Dashboard
Materials: Compatible with over 23 Formlabs resins, including new high-speed resins like Grey Resin V5, White Resin V5, Black Resin V5, and Clear Resin V5
Print Speed: Up to 4x faster than the Form 3+, capable of printing full build volumes in approximately 2 hours

The setup process for previous Form printers has been designed to be as straightforward as possible. Even the least experienced user should be able to get the machine up and running within 15 minutes, requiring only the printer, resin, computer, Wi-Fi, and installed software, with the rest managed by the machine.

When it comes to materials, Formlabs has invested heavily in developing a wide range of specialist materials for various uses and applications. Currently, this range for Form 4 covers over 23 different Formlabs resins, including new high-speed resins for diverse applications.

As this machine is designed for professional markets, reliability and longevity are key features. The Light Processing Unit (LPU) and other components are designed for long service life and high-volume use, with robust construction and smart sensors used to monitor and maintain print consistency, stopping printing if anything appears to be out of place to help save on failures and damage to the machine.

Finally, the change in technology enables print speeds that are up to five times faster than the previous iteration of the machine. This also boosts print efficiency, with the cost per print dropping by around a quoted 40%.

Formlabs Form 4: Performance

Formlabs Form 4

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Unpacking the Formlabs Form 4 immediately showcases the significant upgrades this machine offers. Its size and weight are roughly equivalent to those of Form 3+, so it occupies a similar workspace area. The machine arrives fully assembled, requiring only a few minor setup steps before it’s operational. First, you install the new-design resin tank, which, like the Form 3+, incorporates a mixer arm that also needs to be fitted and locked into place.

The resin tank clicks into place with ease, and the scoop fits back into the machine to catch the resin once the cartridge is installed and primed. The resin mixer design is more robust than that of the Form 3+ and features a locking mechanism. This new design is not only sturdier but also easier to clean between resin swaps. However, given that each tank costs over $100/£100, they are not considered disposable.

Formlabs has simplified the tank cleaning process; the mixer arm fits into the Form Wash easily, and the cleaning sheet option allows you to peel out most of the excess resin before it’s wiped clean.

When it comes to loading the resin, a resin cartridge is dropped into a slot at the back of the machine, then the lid is flipped open to allow airflow to enable the release of resin. Once printing is complete or if the machine is to be left idle for some time, the lid is closed, and the resin is stored for future use.

Resin swapping follows a specific procedure: remove and clean the build platform, close and remove the resin cartridge, then swap out the resin tank. Install a clean resin tank, then the build platform and insert a new resin cartridge. This process is relatively quick and straightforward.

An advantageous feature for frequent resin changes, as in this test, is that tanks with resin residue can be covered and stored flat without a full clean. It is crucial to perform this procedure away from sunlight, as the resins will cure very quickly. Ideally, this should be done in an artificially lit room or with the curtains or blinds drawn.

Formlabs Form 4

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

PreForm software

Once Form 4 is primed and connected to the local area network, you can connect to the machine via the PreForm software and dashboard. This software allows you to prepare your models and upload them directly to the machine without needing to transfer them via USB or another method. Formlabs has designed this system to be streamlined and intuitive, focusing on professional environments without distractions from manufacturer offers or “models of the day.”

An issue we encountered during testing was that many larger pre-supported models could not withstand the machine’s high-speed operations. However, when this issue has been encountered with other high-speed machines we’ve tested, when a print falls from its supports, it often spells disaster for the resin tank and, in one instance, the LCD. However, Form 4, with its advanced monitoring, is well-prepared for such obstructions. The mixer arm detects when something has fallen into the resin, and the print process automatically pauses until the obstruction is removed. During our tests, it was generally possible to retrieve dropped pieces of hardened resin relatively easily, run a cleaning sheet, and restart printing. This occurred about five times and exclusively with pre-supported models. Switching to supports generated with PreForm achieved a 100% print success rate and after a short time of getting to know the printer the switch to using the PreForm supports at all times makes sense.

Formlabs advertises that Form 4 is up to five times faster than its predecessor for certain types of prints. Although a few prints approached the four to five-hour mark, the majority were completed within two hours—considerably faster than many other resin 3D printers. The quality of these prints is notably high, with a finish comparable to injection-molded designs.

In standard mode or print speed of 0.100, prints from Form 4 appeared clear and accurate, with superb surface quality. When switching to high-quality mode 0.050, print times naturally extended. For instance, the 3DBenchy model in PreForm is estimated to take 1 hour and 14 minutes with support or 59 minutes without. In fine quality mode at 0.050, the print time extends to 2 hours or 1 hour and 39 minutes unsupported. For comparison, the Creality K1C can produce the same model in 55 minutes or 1 hour and 45 minutes with supports using standard settings.

Initially the print speeds might seem slightly slower than those from a COREXY FFF printer, however for small production runs, Form 4 dramatically reduces printing times. It can produce nine 3DBenchy models in 1 hour and 12 minutes with supports or 1 hour and 25 minutes without. Conversely, using the Creality K1C for the same task would take approximately 7 hours and 10 minutes or 15 hours and 47 minutes with supports—a significant difference in efficiency.

Formlabs Form 4

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

In a design studio where multiple iterations of a design are common, Form 4 enables fast processing of all designs simultaneously. Although the print platform may seem small, it generally suffices for most print jobs. For example, while the 3D Benchy model is relatively simple by today’s standards, as the complexity and detail of the prints increase, the distinction between the quality and speed of an FFF printer and the Form 4 becomes more pronounced. Printing a detailed model like the Blue Young Dragon illustrates this well, showing that Form 4 finishes the print in 2 hours 53 minutes while the Creality K1C takes 9 hours and 45 minutes. It’s not only the print speed but also the removal of the supports, on the resin model all supports were removed in a round a minute on the FFF print more like ten and some of the more delicate details around the claws were lost despite the high quality of the print.

The cleanup process of resin prints is a major consideration, and with Form 4, this aspect remains significant. The Wash and Cure machines, while optional, are nearly essential for achieving the best results and are among the best in their class. The second-generation Form Wash allows the use of either IPA or TPM as the washing agent, and we’ve chosen IPA for continuity and ease of air drying in our tests. The Cure machine then hardens the prints post-wash using 405 nm light and heat to evenly dry and cure the models. Although these machines are excellent, their cost is comparable to many other resin 3D printers on the market and then there’s the cost of the IPA which to fill to a decent level is going to set you back a good £50/$50. For those looking to economise after investing in Form 4, there are less expensive wash and cure machines available.

Formlabs Form 4

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Cleaning the prints

When it comes to finishing the prints Formlabs have streamlined the process of washing, curing, and removing supports making sure it’s as straightforward as possible: print the model, remove the build platform from the printer, place it into the wash, and start the machine. After washing, use snips to detach the print from the build platform, remove the supports, and then place the print into the Cure machine. Once the curing is complete, any final touches can be applied to finish the print. The support structures are designed such that a quick rub between washing and curing usually results in a clean surface. For optimal results, it’s best to ensure all residual supports are removed before curing.

Print quality and accuracy is the main reason you would levitate towards the Form 4 over cheaper resin printers and at no point does the machines print quality disappoint. Using standard settings and V5 materials, the surface finish is exceptionally smooth, with only minor visible layering on some contours. By increasing the quality settings in the PreForm software, these layer lines become nearly invisible, though the print times will be longer.

In terms of quality, the output from Form 4 is comparable to that of Form 3+, with differences only discernible at the micro-detail level. However, the enhanced user experience and additional features make the Form 4 a worthwhile upgrade from the Form 3+.

Beyond standard resin

In this test we’ve looked at the standard V5 resins, but it’s worth highlighting that this is just the edge of what this machine has to offer. The resin materials that will work with this machine enable all sorts of uses, from functional parts, Ceramic, Biomedical and moulding with each of these materials fine tuned for their intended usage.

More on an enthusiast level it’s also possible to use non Formlabs’ resin which will prove to be a cheaper option for many. More details of this can be found on the formlabs website https://formlabs.com.

Formlabs Form 4: Final verdict

Formlabs Form 4

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

If you’re in the market for a resin 3D printer that surpasses the print quality of all FFF 3D printers and offers a cost-effective professional solution, then Form 4 is among only a few that deliver such high standards in this price range. Right from the start, the machine impresses with its easy setup and intuitive workflow, which is straightforward enough for even those completely new to the technology to grasp.

While dealing with resin is typically a messy affair, Formlabs has made this process as manageable as possible with auto-feed and easy-to-dispense resin cartridges. The tanks are also easy to remove, safe to store, and use on a daily basis, with little to no fault.

For more sporadic use, where cleaning the machine or, more specifically, the tank is necessary, the process can be a bit more time-consuming. While the mixer arm can be easily cleaned in Form Wash, the tank requires a more manual approach. Despite the advanced design and the helpful cleaning sheet, it’s more complex than some of its competitors.

Aside from cleaning, most other aspects of the workflow are straightforward, including swapping out resins. Maintaining cleanliness and methodical practices ensures smooth operation without issues. Form 4 stands out in two particular areas: its accuracy, quality, and reliability for intricate details and complex objects, which make it an ideal choice for jewellers and model makers, offering unmatched ease of consistency. Throughout testing, 8 litres of resin—clear, grey, and black—were used without a single issue, a stark contrast to some of the best, cheaper printers that often encounter failures.

The second area where Form 4 excels is in prototyping and small to medium production runs. Formlabs provided a test print file that demonstrated the machine’s capability to produce small production runs of parts for their resin tank mixer, achieving quick and incredibly high-quality results. In our test we switched to printing a GoPro handlebar mount product, and successive runs produced fast and accurate prints without fault.

For those looking for one of the most reliable, high-quality, and least messy resin 3D printers on the market, the Form 4 has little competition at this price point.

Should You Buy the Formlabs Form 4?

The Formlabs Form 4 is ideal for professionals requiring high precision and reliability in industries such as prototyping, jewelry-making, modelling and small production runs. Its superior print quality, capable of handling intricate details and complex designs, makes it standout. The intuitive setup and workflow make it accessible, even for those new to 3D printing. Despite its higher upfront cost, its efficiency in managing resin and the minimal occurrence of print failures provide long-term value. Suitable for both frequent and occasional users, the Form 4 excels in rapid prototyping and small production runs, making it a top choice for businesses aiming for outstanding results without constant technical challenges.

Buy if…

Don’t buy if..


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Creality K1C review

The Creality K1C is the latest printer from Creality’s fully enclosed K 3D printer line. Once again, the style of the machine reflects the rest of the line with a high-quality, rigid frame and a tinted transparent part-glass enclosure that keeps the inner chamber heated for specialist materials.

The K1C boosts the abilities of both the K1 and K1 Max with a few additional features over both machines. While the size and mechanical specifications of the K1 and K1C are essentially the same, some of the more advanced features, such as the AI camera, have filtered down from the larger machine.

Interestingly, Creality has completely overhauled the tool head with a 300° hotend that features a hardened steel nozzle tip designed to cope with specialist materials such as carbon fibre. This enhancement makes the machine far more appealing to those using 3D printers in the industry, reminiscent of the old Cel-Robox Dual and its specialist carbon heads a few years back.

While the K1C isn’t a replacement for the K1, the price difference between the two is marginal, making it hard to see why anyone would now prefer the older K1 over this all-new and seemingly much more versatile new machine. The K1 and K1 Max impressed us two of the best 3D printers we’ve reviewed, so with the main mechanics of this new machine much the same, it all comes down to the integration of the new tool head and the AI camera to see if there’s also a step-up in quality.

Creality K1C: Design

Creality K1C review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

An initial look at the K1C, it’s instantly apparent that this is closely related to the K1. The big difference here is that the K1C has been enhanced to handle carbon fibre filaments like PLA-CF, PA-CF, and PET-CF and features a hardened steel nozzle. Part of this new tool head design is Creality’s development of what they call a “clog-free extruder kit” with a “Unicorn” tri-metal nozzle, which is a combination of copper, titanium, and steel that is more resistant to abrasive materials such as carbon fibre.

Part of the potential boost in reliability is due to the AI camera, which is now an integrated part of the K1C’s design rather than an optional add-on, as with the K1. Further boosting performance is an upgraded cooling system with print head fans and an additional 18W fan in the build chamber to aid with cooling when needed.

Creality K1C review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

As with the other K series printers, the machine utilizes a CoreXY design, which can be notoriously noisy due to the speed. A design change with the pulley gears means that these are now smaller, helping to increase the printer’s precision. Staying with precision, a flexible PEI build plate is incorporated, and again, the machine uses a hands-free auto-leveling system. So far, in this series of printers, the quality of the auto bed levelling has been exceptional.

One of the most notable features of the design is the fully enclosed nature of the case. This has also seen a slight development over the K1 with a better handle, improved door hinge with magnetic closure, and an anti-shatter film added to the glass to improve safety.

Along with the other enhancements to the design, the touchscreen, while on the surface looking the same, has seen a few changes to accommodate the additional features of the AI camera and improved hot end.

Creality K1C: Features

Creality K1C review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

A quick look at the features of the K1C reveals that the basics are much the same as the K1, with high-speed printing of up to 600mm/s, full use of the CoreXY motion system, and input shaping. However, the machine has had a few stability improvements, although it is a touch lighter at 12.4kg.

The big feature that is highlighted is the extended material compatibility. Although the nozzle and hotend temperature ranges remain the same as the older machine, the new nozzle and extruder mean that it can now cope with a range of specialist materials such as PLA-CF, PA-CF, and PET-CF, essentially any material with abrasive properties.

To cope with the new materials and more specialist options, such as nylon and ABS, the machine features a reworked cooling system. This now enables dynamically balanced fans to cool where and when needed, resulting in less stringing and warping.

Specs

Print Technology: Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
Build Area: 220 x 220 x 250 mm
Minimum Layer Resolution: 0.1 mm
Maximum Layer Resolution: 0.35 mm
Dimensions: 355 x 355 x 480 mm
Weight: 14 kg
Bed: Heated bed, up to 100°C
Print Surface: PEI flexible build plate
Software: Creality Print, Cura (5.0 and later), PrusaSlicer, OrcaSlicer
Materials: PLA, PETG, ABS, PA, ASA, PC, TPU, PLA-CF, PA-CF, PET-CF
Print Speed: Up to 600 mm/s

The new direct drive, clog-free extruder kit, and a unicorn tri-metal nozzle promise higher durability and performance. These have been enhanced to cope with high-temperature and abrasive filaments.

One of the features that appealed to me about the K1 Max or the upgrade kit for the K1 is the AI camera for real-time print monitoring, timelapse recording, and failure detection. This camera has been designed to fully integrate with the Creality Print software and, with the wireless connection, enables you to send and monitor prints to the machine remotely.

One of the standout features of the new series is the enhanced touchscreen interface, which is well thought out across the range of printers and enables you to make real-time adjustments and monitor print times if needed. As interfaces go, it’s both intuitive and easy to navigate.

When it comes to the print area, the volume of the K1C remains the same as the K1 at 220x220x250mm with a PEI flexible build plate that supports input shaping.

A nice touch with the K1C is the option for a side-mounted spool holder, which gives you a few more options regarding the machine’s positioning.

As a fully enclosed printer, the machine comes almost ready to go out of the box, only taking a few minutes before you can power it on and start printing. The build quality of the full metal frame, glass door, and acrylic sides all add to the feeling of quality that ups the level even when compared to the K1 and K1 Max machines.

Creality K1C: Performance

Creality K1C review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The print quality from both the K1 and K1 Max was on par, with the two machines scoring decently at 26.5. You can see the full performance in our Creality K1 review and Creality K1 Max review

In the tests, the K1C looks to follow suit with a slight improvement in some areas. Starting with the real-world tests, the quality of the prints is exceptional, considering the speed at which the machine can produce a print. All models were produced flawlessly through three different material choices: PLA, PETG, and finally, Carbon Fill.

Looking closely at the PLA prints, the overall finish was good, with the new cooling system seeming to minimize stringing effectively. When using PLA, the top of the machine and doors are left open to aid with cooling. Switching to PETG, the filament enabled finer detail and a superb surface finish, although with both filaments, while the dimensional accuracy is good, the benchmark test showed some variation. 

Creality K1C review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

While the machine’s performance is solid and would have stood out if launched alongside the other two, there are now machines like the Qidi Tech Q1 Pro 3D, which have slightly better overall print quality but lag in machine build quality and features.

However, this machine’s main focus has to be carbon filaments, which are notoriously difficult to work with and can easily damage a standard machine. Here, the K1C handles the specialist materials with ease, producing excellent prints that are incredibly durable and well-finished. Carbon filament is not for generic modelling and is more suited for workable prototypes, for which this machine excels.

Creality K1C: Print quality

Dimensional accuracy – score of 5 

Target 25 = X: 24.94mm / 0.06mm Error | Y: 24.97mm / 0.03mm Error 
Target 20 = X: 19.96mm / 0.04mm Error | Y: 19.98mm / 0.02mm Error 
Target 15 = X: 14.99mm / 0.01mm Error | Y: 15mm / 0mm Error 
Target 10 = X: 9.93mm / 0.07mm Error | Y: 10mm / 0mm Error 
Target 5 = X: 4.92mm / 0.08mm Error | Y: 5.04mm / 0.04mm Error 

X Error Average = 0.052

Y Error Average = 0.018

X&Y Error Average = 0.035

Fine Flow Control – score of 2.5 

Fine Negative Features – score of 5

Overhangs – score of 4 

Bridging – score of 5 

XY resonance – score of 2.5

Z-axis alignment – score of 2.5

Adding up the totals gives a final score of 26.5 out of 30.

Creality K1C: Final verdict

Creality K1C review

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Currently, the K Series of Creality 3D printers sets a comfortable benchmark for build quality. The machines look great, and the company has worked hard to elevate its offerings from run-of-the-mill 3D printers used by enthusiasts to machines that have a far wider appeal.

Compared to the Ender-3 series, which really brought the company to the forefront, the K series is far more refined and professional, breaking away completely from the DIY form that many of these printers originated from. The CoreXY design, combined with their speed and Klipper firmware, has boosted speed and quality, and the K1C is currently one of the most refined printers out there.

Looking at the benchmark scores, the printer performs well, putting in one of the highest scores of any FFF printer we’ve looked at. However, when it comes to print quality, there are now some very serious competitors. While the likes of QIDI and AnkerMake M5C might just edge ahead with print quality, neither comes close when it comes to the complete package.

The software for the QIDI is good but not as integrated as that of Creality, and the build quality needs to catch up. Meanwhile, the AnkerMake M5C produces outstanding prints but is still an open system and slower overall. The Creality K1C has it all—for education enthusiasts and professionals, this is one interesting printer. The only downside at present is that it still lacks any multi-material support from Creality, although that’s likely to come.

Should You Buy the Creality K1C?


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Anycubic Photon Mono M5s Pro review

The Anycubic Photon Mono M5s Pro is one of the highest-resolution resin printers available, with a 14k screen enabling a resolution of 13,312 x 5,120px over the 10.1-inch screen. This resolution should translate to incredible quality prints that will leave the competition in its wake. 

The overall design is very AnyCubic, as the company often opts for pure functionality over design aesthetics. Indeed, the machine itself reflects the Mono machines that have come before, but inside, the technology has taken a huge step forward. The high-resolution screen is the big hitter when it comes to features, but there are also the heater and air purification system and 105mm/h print speed. While the machine itself might not reflect the best 3D printer technology it contains, it is a machine of real interest and potential for several reasons.

The first is the cover, an essential part of the resin printer. While it’s nothing outwardly wrong, most other manufacturers adopt a flip-up design that is much more user-friendly.

The heat and cleaner are also great additions that significantly improve the quality of the prints. However, their integration into the design isn’t as refined, especially compared to direct competition like the Uniformation GKTwo and Creality HALOT-MAGE PRO. Still, when it comes to print quality, it’s hard to argue with the capabilities of the 14k screen and the prints it enables you to create.

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s: Design

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

AnyCubic is known for making outstanding-quality machines that are functional, reliable, and capable of producing high-quality prints. This reputation holds for both its resin and FFF printers. However, while most other printer manufacturers have innovated with their designs, AnyCubic has remained reserved, sticking to what’s familiar and maintaining its loyal user base.

The Anycubic Photon Mono M5s Pro is disappointingly similar to previous mono machines, with some small design tweaks, but ultimately, it’s an ultra-functional machine that’s slightly uninspired in design. The bright yellow UV protective cover remains a lift-off rather than a flip-up like most modern machines. While some people will appreciate the ability to remove the lid completely, these days, that shouldn’t be necessary, and for accessibility and ease, a flip lid is much easier.

The resin tray is once again bolted down rather than a quick release. While this is still the most common approach, it could be more convenient when it comes to cleaning. This resin tank is also manually filled; there’s no issue there, but with plenty of autofill options available, it seems a shame that something has yet to be innovated in this area, especially considering the cost of resin.

That said, the machine has plenty to get excited about. Underneath that resin tank is the ultra-high-resolution 14k screen, making it the highest-resolution printer we have examined. While the machine’s aesthetics might not excite, the technology does.

A significant advancement for this machine is the integration of the heater and cleaner, which ensures the resin is kept in ideal conditions and helps reduce blemishes and other issues. Then, there’s a series of advanced print monitoring with smart detection features. This style of monitoring is relatively new to resin printers, so its inclusion here is great.

Like most resin machines, we also have the touchscreen interface, which is very AnyCubic, simple, yet perfectly functional.

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s: Features

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The AnyCubic Photon Mono M5s Pro promises exceptional detail and precision with its industry-leading 10.1-inch monochrome LCD. It delivers a 14K resolution and an XY resolution of 16.8*24.8μm, which is comparable to the thickness of a hair. AnyCubic has combined this high resolution with 85% light uniformity to ensure fine detail and sharp edges.

Innovatively designed, it incorporates an air heater and purifier module, maintaining a consistent air temperature of up to 40℃ to keep the resin above 20℃ for optimal printing in colder conditions. It also includes a high-quality activated carbon component to absorb resin odours, thus creating a more pleasant printing environment.

The printer’s high-speed capabilities, with an average print speed of 105mm/h, are supported by its third-generation high-speed ACF film. This film reduces peeling force, lowers the peeling height, and increases lifting speed, thereby enhancing the printer’s performance and reliability.

Specs

Print Technology: LCD-based UV Photocuring
Build Area: 200 x 223.78 x 126.38 mm
Minimum Layer Resolution: 10 microns
Maximum Layer Resolution: 50 microns
Dimensions: 460 x 270 x 290 mm (HWD)
Weight: 9.4 kg
Bed: Laser engraving aluminium alloy
Print Surface: Unibody design with scale lines
Software: Anycubic Photon workshop
Materials: 405nm UV resin
Print Speed: Up to 105mm/h

A standout feature of the Photon Mono M5s Pro is its leveling-free design, which, through floating platform technology and internal sensors, adjusts to ensure consistent printing quality. Furthermore, the printer is equipped with smart detection systems that prevent screen breakage by identifying resin residue and adjusting the peeling height according to the model’s shape, thus improving the success rate and speed of printing.

Completing the feature set is the printer’s compatibility with the Anycubic App. This app facilitates one-touch printing from a wide selection of pre-sliced models and enables efficient print management and troubleshooting. This app integration represents a significant advancement in making 3D printing more accessible and user-friendly.

With these advanced features, the AnyCubic Photon Mono M5s Pro is well-suited for both professional and hobbyist users who demand high-quality, detailed prints, and a reliable, user-friendly printing experience.

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s: Performance

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

As with all resin printers, the print quality depends on the conditions and the resin used. For this test, the tank was filled with high-speed resin to put the printer to the test in terms of print quality and speed. I have used this resin in the past and am not a fan.

While the resin prints fast and is high quality, it is extremely tough and brittle from the outset. This means that you need to be extremely careful with how the supports are applied to the models using the Anycubic Photon Software. Even with the models that Anycubic supplies as an example of the quality, the printer suffers from the overapplication of supports and the impossibility of support removal.

However, swapping the resin for one of the company’s other resins, such as their well-priced standard resin, results in slower but still fast prints, and the results are far easier to extract from the support system.

Overall, the quality of the prints is fantastic, challenging far more expensive printers in terms of the overall finish.

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

After washing and removing the support trees and curing in the superb Anycubic Wash & Cure Max Machine, the final prints are of extremely high quality.

Regarding machine maintenance, the main point is to be careful with the High-Speed Resin. Updates to the Anycubic software have improved the application of the support tree. Still, it’s crucial to experiment fully with the tree application before using and adjusting every model. This material is good but very brittle; with all these issues, the flip side is that the material does what it is designed to do and enables you to print very high-quality prints extremely quickly and with great detail.

Ultimately, this resin printer’s print quality, with its high 14k resolution, is outstanding. Still, as always, to achieve the best results, you will need to do some legwork when finishing the models, especially being careful with the high-speed resin.

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s: Final verdict

Anycubic Photon Mono M5s

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

This is an outstanding-quality resin 3D printer, only held back by its machine design rather than the quality of the prints it produces. The design is tried and tested, and while some aesthetic tweaks have been made compared to past models, the actual usability could be better.

For example, the protective lid rests on top of the base and can be lifted completely clear. Some might prefer this design in a workshop or studio, while the more common flip-up design is much neater and more suitable for a busy creative environment.

There’s the resin tank, again using the same foundational design that Anycubic has always employed. Bolts hold it securely to the base. This works but feels a bit dated, as other machines offer slick quick-release mechanisms.

The addition of the heater and filter system is superb, and it’s great to see. Still, with its power supply and slightly makeshift integration and attachment design, it feels like a must-have afterthought rather than a smoothly integrated part of the system.

Putting these points aside, they are minor and shouldn’t overshadow the fact that this is one of the best resin 3D printers out there. The Pro model has built on the quality of the Anycubic Photon Mono M5s with enhanced resolution and features. Used carefully, with the support trees correctly set within the Anycubic Photon Workshop software at that 14k resolution, this machine can print models of a quality that you would expect from some of the top-tier printers.

Should you buy the Anycubic Photon Mono M5s Pro?

Buy the Anycubic Photon Mono M5s Pro if you prioritize exceptional print quality and high-resolution capabilities. Its 14k screen delivers intricate details, perfect for professionals or enthusiasts who demand precision. Tmachine’se’s advanced features, like the heater and air purifier, enhance printing consistency and environmental quality.

However, don’t buy it if you’re looking for a modern design or if your budget is a primary concern. The traditional design might appeal to some, and its high-end features come with a price tag that may exceed the budget of casual users or those new to 3D printing.

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…


Want to engrave as well as print? We’ve tested out the best laser engravers

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Qidi Tech Q1 Pro 3D Printer review

The Qidi Tech Q1 Pro 3D Printer is the first from the company that we’ve reviewed, so we’re evaluating it with fresh eyes. We can only compare it against the best 3D printers we tested, not any previous releases from the company. Initial online impressions of the design, featuring a full enclosure and touch screen, are positive, and the specifications suggest a very promising machine.

When the box arrives and the machine is unwrapped, it looks quite nice and true to the marketing images. Unfortunately, the quality of the casing materials is not as high as the design initially suggests. A closer inspection reveals that the quality of the components and the construction of the actual mechanics are sound, and it’s important to remember that this is a sub-$500 printer.

Considering the price and what you see, this is a COREXY machine with a heated inner chamber, Klipper firmware, and enough internal support to hold things together during high-speed printing. Initial impressions are, therefore, mixed: it’s a great-looking machine with a not-so-great exterior material choice and amazing specifications, but can it pull all this together to produce a decent print?

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro 3D Printer: Design

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

From the outset, the design is appealing, even if the outer casing’s materials feel a bit on the cheap side. The case allows for printing with more technical materials, or if you prefer to stick to standard PLA, you can simply remove the top and open the door.

On the front of the machine is a large LCD screen where you can select prints, adjust settings, calibrate, and connect to a local area network. The interface is straightforward, and the large screen is exceptionally well-designed and easy to use. Loading the first reel of filament is straightforward, and uploading prints is done through the QIDISlicer, which is based on the excellent PRUSASlicer and offers plenty of options.

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The machine features some interesting design choices, such as the independent dual Z motors, which create a solid build platform necessary to handle the machine’s speed when running at full capacity. The chamber can be heated to 60ºC, accommodating various materials, and the design is fully enclosed when needed.

Inside, there’s a small box at the back of the machine that, when the machine starts working, reveals itself as the filament bin. This is where the excess filament is deposited to keep prints clean—a small feature that can make a significant difference.

The design is attractive but let down by the material choice, which feels somewhat flexible. However, as a functional product, the touch screen, large plexi door, removable lid, filament bin, and dual independent Z motors all feel extremely solid and built to last.

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro 3D Printer: Features

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Qidi Tech Q1 Pro is equipped with several features that, until the release of the Bambu printers, were typically found in mid to high-end models. QIDI states that it only takes ten minutes from the box to the first print, and with features such as full-auto calibration, this proved to be absolutely accurate, making it one of the most straightforward printers to get started with.

Through the plexi front door is the impressive inner chamber with a build volume of 245 x 245 x 240mm. Notably, the hotend above features a nozzle with a maximum temperature of 350°C, ideal for high-temperature filaments like PAHT-CF and PET-CF.

When printing these materials, a heated inner chamber creates an ideal printing environment, capable of reaching up to 60°C depending on the material settings. This feature reduces warping and improves layer bonding, which is particularly beneficial for warp-prone filaments such as ABS, PA, and PC.

The Q1 Pro’s design includes independent dual Z motors, providing higher precision and stability. Combined with its CoreXY structure, this should ensure high-speed, accurate, and stable printing, especially when paired with the Klipper firmware.

Specs

Print Technology: Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

Build Area: 245 x 245 x 240 mm

Minimum Layer Resolution: 50 microns

Maximum Layer Resolution: 400 microns

Dimensions: 480 x 380 x 480 mm

Weight: 18 kg

Bed: Heated, up to 100°C

Print Surface: Removable and flexible magnetic plate

Software: Qidi Print, compatible with Cura and Simplify3D

Materials: PLA, ABS, PETG, TPU, and other 1.75mm filaments

Print Speed: Up to 150 mm/s

The printer also features a tri-metal hot end, enabling it to handle a variety of filaments, including those with better mechanical properties. The printer is designed with speed and accuracy in mind. Like the initial setup, calibration is an ongoing feature with dual sensor auto bed levelling and an essential filament detection system, including filament runout and tangle detection, crucial for 1.75mm filament nearing the end of its usable life.

Inside the outer casing, the Qidi Tech Q1 Pro is built with a full metal frame structure, which is necessary due to the high speeds this machine can reach. Powering the processing is a powerful 64-bit processor and 32G-EMMC large memory, supporting high-speed Wi-Fi 6, allowing you to send your print files directly from QIDISlicer.

Additional handy features include a 1080P camera, which enables remote monitoring of prints and timelapses. Considering the price, this is a feature-packed printer that rivals many more expensive machines.

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro 3D Printer: Performance

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Few machines can compete with the QIDI Q1 Pro in terms of absolute print quality. During testing, a variety of filaments were run through the system to evaluate the heated inner chamber, along with many standard prints using PLA. The results demonstrated the machine’s exceptional accuracy and speed.

Throughout weeks of testing, there were no failed prints, which is nearly unheard of, and upon inspecting the prints, the extrusion quality could have been better. As a CORE XY machine, it excels in speed, but it is unusual for a machine at this price point to be both accurate and capable of producing such clean results. The only other machine that compares in cleanliness is the AnkerMake M5C 3D printer, which uses refined yet older technology and has an open design, making it unsuitable for many uses.

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

Examining the models reveals that the quality shines through: detail is well-defined, support structures, with some tweaking, are easy to remove, and surface quality is excellent. The test prints all looked great, as evidenced in the images. Similarly, running the usual benchmarking tests produced outstanding results, confirming that the QIDI Q1 Pro is a top contender in its class, delivering both speed and precision in its prints.

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro 3D Printer: Print quality

Dimensional accuracy – score of 5 

Target 25 = X: 24.98mm / 0.02mm Error | Y: 24.96mm / 0.04mm Error 
Target 20 = X: 19.98mm / 0.02mm Error | Y: 19.94mm / 0.06mm Error 
Target 15 = X: 14.87mm / 0.13mm Error | Y: 14.94mm / 0.06mm Error 
Target 10 = X: 9.95mm / 0.05mm Error | Y: 9.94mm / 0.06mm Error 
Target 5 = X: 4.88mm / 0.12mm Error | Y: 4.90mm / 0.10mm Error 
X Error Average = 0.068
Y Error Average = 0.064
X&Y Error Average = 0.066

Fine Flow Control – score of 5 

Fine Negative Features – score of 5 

Overhangs – score of 4 

Bridging – score of 4

XY resonance – score of 2.5

Z-axis alignment – score of 2.5

Adding up the totals gives a final score of 28 out of 30.

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro 3D Printer: Final verdict

Qidi Tech Q1 Pro

(Image credit: Alastair Jennings)

The Qidi Tech Q1 Pro is a 3D printer that stands out, especially considering its price. It offers features typically found in higher-end models, such as high-speed printing, precision, and robust features like active chamber heating and dual Z motors, making it a superb choice for small businesses and educational purposes.

While the external casing materials may feel less premium, the printer’s overall build quality and functionality are impressive. The print quality is exceptional, with accurate and detailed outputs that are consistently great for small product runs and prototyping. For those seeking a reliable, feature-rich 3D printer without breaking the bank, the Q1 Pro is an excellent choice, effectively balancing performance and value.

Should You Buy the Qidi Tech Q1 Pro?


We also compared the best 3D modeling software

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Independent auditors confirm top VPN’s privacy claims

Industry-leading auditing firm Deloitte Romania have verified that CyberGhost VPN takes care of your data as it should and states to do so. The audit takes a deep dive into the provider’s system and privacy infrastructure while verifying that it never logs any of your identifiable information as stated in its Privacy Policy.

This is the second time the popular VPN provider successfully put its no-logs claims under scrutiny with an independent audit since 2022, maintaining its place as one of the best VPNs around.

CyberGhost 2024 audit

CyberGhost promises to implement several protection measures to make sure its VPN servers never collect user logs. For starters, all services are running inside containers which, the provider claims, are ephemeral by design. This means that no persistent disk storage is attached to them.  

CyberGhost also promises that all its VPN servers run on a RAM-only system. This infrastructure makes sure that once the server loses power, all data associated with it is immediately lost. Basic hardware usage info and a raw estimation of how many users are connected to the same servers are the only details the provider records—in line with market standards.

Auditors at Deloitte inspected all relevant IT systems, including CyberGhost VPN servers, their distribution, and its Dedicated IP token-based system, to verify their configuration as well as implementation coincided with the description the company provides. They also look at how the Privacy Policy claims are implemented for user access, change management, and other basic usability functionality.

As of January 31, 2024, Deloitte confirmed that CyberGhost’s privacy and no-logs infrastructure works as expected. “Nothing has come to our attention that causes us to believe that CyberGhost’s configuration of IT systems and management of the supporting IT operations were not prepared in accordance with CyberGhost’s description,” auditors wrote.

“User trust is a huge factor for any security and privacy organization. Every time you connect to a CyberGhost server, it’s our responsibility to ensure your traffic is encrypted, and your data is secure,” said a CyberGhost VPN spokesperson. “Having expert third parties audit our services means that our users can be absolutely certain our no-logs policy means exactly what it says on the label.”

Contrary to other competitors, the provider has locked the audit behind a subscription to their service. So, while all subscribers can review the full report via the CyberGhost customer portal, I recommend taking advantage of their 45-day money-back guarantee if you want to read it without committing the cash.

No-log VPNs: why is it important?

At this point you might be wondering, why should I care whether or not my VPN logs user data? Well, you should if you care about your privacy.

While some logs of basic data like the number of users connecting to the same server and the email address associated with a user’s account are inevitable, a no-log VPN is your guarantee that no personal details or usage information are ever recorded. That’s exactly why we at TechRadar firmly believe that a strict no-logs policy should be among your top priorities when signing up for a new VPN service.

This means that if, for instance, a malicious hacker or government manages to acquire this data, none of your sensitive information will be leaked because the details simply won’t exist. 

The importance of this feature has already been proved in real life when Swedish authorities were left empty-handed after an inconclusive police raid on Mullvad’s servers last year. Another provider, Private Internet Access, also proved its no-logs claims in court, not once but twice.

“Transparency has been at the forefront of everything we do,” CyberGhost wrote in a blog post. “As we constantly strive to improve our service and offer you peace of mind in the face of mutating digital threats, we’ll commission regular audits.”

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Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: the best earbuds prompts in the business with excellent ANC too

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100: Two-minute review

The Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 are what the fans were waiting for. Prior to their release, Cambridge Audio’s excellent earbuds couldn’t join the ranks of the best noise-cancelling earbuds for one simple reason: the UK audio specialist’s true wireless buds sounded fantastic, but they didn’t have the necessary antiphase noise-nixing tech onboard to offer active noise cancellation. And that is because Cambridge Audio prefers to focus on excellent audio quality (and long may that last by the way). 

But times have changed. While Melomania will never cease to mean ‘crazy about music’, the British company has conceded that the people are also crazy about active noise cancellation. And if Cambridge is going to offer ANC, it’s going to do it right. Although you can’t tweak its splendid noise cancelling profile any further than ‘On’, ‘Off’ or ‘Transparency’, when it’s on, the ANC here is as effective at cancelling low-level noise as you could wish for, cocooning me in a bubble of near-silence and keeping the footsteps around my desk (plus my own tap-tap-tapping of the laptop keys upon which I bring you this review) barred from that bubble. 

The transparency profile is less useful, with a bit too much audible feedback and a near-constant quiet hiss, even in quiet environments, to be a wholly pleasant experience. But a less-than-perfect transparency mode is a minor shortfall I’m prepared to accept when the noise nixing is this good. 

Multi-point connectivity is baked in here, as is aptX Lossless and aptX Adaptive for higher-resolution audio (if you’ve got a decent, paid-for music streaming subscription and files up to 24bit/96kHz to serve them), and the battery life, at up to 10 hours from the buds and a total of 23 with ANC on, or 16 hours from the buds and 36 with ANC off, is exceptional. The build quality is also bang-on, with a far more ergonomic driver housing than the bullet-shaped Melomania 1 Plus

There’s no device-agnostic spatial audio special side-sauce or fit tests and I’m not surprised. I can hear Cambridge Audio’s engineers reaffirm the choice to offer “as few opportunities as possible to muck around with your music – we like a clean sound”, as they did at the launch of the excellent CXN100 Network Player in January 2024. And you know what? I really don’t mind, because the sound in these earbuds is expansive, detailed, nuanced, clean, neutral and immersive enough all by itself. That said, Cambridge will let you select one of six EQ presets, or create a custom one of your own – with a seven-point EQ parametric tab. 

Call handling is also very good, thanks to the Qualcomm’s three mic cVc (or Clear Voice Capture) solution, designed to separate your voice from environmental noise, which works very well indeed. 

I should mention that the case is a little big – again, I’m OK with this more substantial box given the excellent stamina, sound quality and ANC. Also, they’re perhaps $50 or £40 pricier than the direct competition. Are they worth it? It all comes down to whether you prioritise sound quality above all else in a true wireless design. For me, the Melomania M100 represent sound-per-pound value – but if you want fit tests, tailored otoacoustic hearing profiles and other whistles and bells, you won’t want these. 

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: Price and release date

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 one earbud, held in a hand

The ergonomic earpieces are a hit (Image credit: Future)
  • Released on March 27, 2024
  • Priced at $219 / £169 / AU$299

The Cambridge Audio M100 aren’t as cheap as the Melomania 1 Plus earbuds they succeed, which had a launch price of $139.95 / £119.95 / about AU$185 – although their price has dropped significantly since that.

At £169 (about $219 / AU$326) they’re still considerably more affordable than AirPods Pro 2, which typical sell for $249 / £249 / AU$399. While you could argue that Apple sets a pretty high bar and most brands undercut that pricing, that’s not necessarily true in 2024. Consider Bose’s $299 / £299 / AU$449 Bose QuietComfort Ultra, Sennheiser’s March 2024 $299 / £259 / AU$479 Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4 or Technics’ EAH-AZ80, also at $299 / £259 / AU$499. See? For the level, Cambridge Audio has actually priced these earbuds competitively.

What you need to know is that while there’s plenty of flagship talent here, they actually come in slightly under flagship money. The Melomania M100 are not as affordable as the excellent Nothing Ear (a), for example, but the Nothing buds are an entry-level proposition – a great proposition, but missing just one or two of the flagship features you’ll find in their top-tier Nothing Ear counterparts. 

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: Specs

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: Features

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 case, held in a hand

The case is a little large, but it’s perfectly pocketable and honestly, I don’t mind its dimensions one bit (Image credit: Future)
  • Great active noise cancellation and app support
  • Excellent battery life
  • Use the ‘Southwark’ Audible Feedback profile

The fact that Cambridge Audio has included active noise-cancellation (ANC) plus a Transparency mode is big news, because it’s a first for the UK audio outfit’s Melomania lineup – but the even bigger news is, the noise nixing works really well. At my desk, I’m living in a bubble of near-silence akin to that afforded by the AirPods Pro 2, and that’s not a statement I make lightly. 

You’re also getting Bluetooth 5.3 with LE Audio, aptX Lossless for CD-like audio quality, Auracast (for when broadcast audio-sharing comes to our airports and waiting rooms), plus the more efficient LC3 codec. 

Call handling is a breeze using the Melomania M100’s three mics per earpiece (kitted out with cVc echo-cancelling and noise suppression tech from Qualcomm) and the battery life here is very impressive, with a possible 52 hours from the buds and charging case combined – because you get 16 hours from the buds alone if you keep ANC turned off. For clarity, the AirPods Pro 2 last ‘just’ nine hours with ANC off (I know this because I tested it myself). 

Melomania Connect is the M100’s capable (and newly updated) companion app, which opens the door to additional features such as the ability to customise the on-ear controls to your liking, six EQ presets plus a seven-band graphic equaliser so you can create your own, wearer detect to pause audio when you remove one, mono audio (if you’ve given one bud to a friend), a sleep mode (which disables all touch controls and voice prompts until you put them back in their case) a gaming mode to reduce latency when watching videos and my favorite, the chance to select what Cambridge calls ‘Audible feedback’. This, it turns out, means the person talking to you in your headphones about pairing status, noise cancellation and so on. Scroll down to ‘Southwark’ in this tab and you hear none other than the actual Matt Berry (What We do in the Shadows; Toast of London; The IT Crowd). And that, truly, is an ace up Cambridge Audio’s sleeve. If you don’t believe me, just spend a few moments setting up multipoint.

There’s no special spatial audio processing (which doesn’t surprise me given Cambridge Audio’s thoughts on keeping music authentic and as the artist intended), but some users may miss the fit tests and even tailored profiles based on your hearing offered by the Denon PerL Pro and Nothing’s new Ear (a), to name just two products that offer it – because you won’t find these in the M100. 

  • Features score: 4/5

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: Sound quality

Cambridge Audio M100 in their case, held in a hand

It’s all about black with more black here, unless you get a limited edition set…  (Image credit: Future)
  • Expansive, detailed presentation
  • Sublime clarity across the frequencies 
  • Just a shade off excellent for dynamic nuance

You can of course listen to lossy Spotify tracks using the Melomania M100, but Cambridge Audio’s focus has long been sound quality and as such, you might want to treat these buds to some higher-resolution Apple Music, Qobuz or Tidal streams. Also when you do, there’s so much to love. 

When streaming The Bangles’ Eternal Flame, Susanna Hoffs’ stunningly understated vocal is given a few inches more space to shine than I’m used to at this level, and backing vocals arrive in each ear with surprising texture and clarity through the lower mids. Travis Scott’s FE!N is immersive as synths dart between each ear, proving that the M100 aren’t afraid to drop low and get grimy either. 

Belle and Sebastian’s She’s Losing It is another sonic delight for neutrality and detail in each musical passage; you’ll feel as if you learned a bit about this Glaswegian indie band’s use of strings and additional voices after a session with the Melomania M100. 

Sam Smith’s Unholy reveals a minor shortfall in terms of dynamic nuance though. The M100s still serve up a detailed and cohesive mix, but I’m missing an extra ounce of the spirited rise and fall that typifies the track. This is a song that grabs you from the get-go, with a full choral recital of the main theme followed by a moment of silence before the bass-riff drops. It’s just not quite as ear-grabbing, zealous or petulant as I’ve heard prior to now. 

Again, it’s a long way from an actual issue – and many listeners will prefer the expansive, integrated, detailed, thoughtful presentation of the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100. I adore listening to Melissa Etheridge’s I Want to Come Over with these earbuds, since I can hear her particular method of approaching guitar strings in ballads and the beautiful, imperfect textures in her vocal at times, but if you tend to listen to  hip-hop and grime tracks on the commute, you may just yearn for a little extra oomph. 

  • Sound quality score: 4.5/5

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: Design

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 held in a hand

(Image credit: Future)
  • Ergonomic, secure and comfortable earpieces
  • On-ear controls work well
  • Case is a little big

These are easily the most comfortable Melomania earbuds ever made. The buds slip easily into my shell-likes with none of the tiresome twist-and-lock screwing them in some earbuds require. At 6.65g per bud, they’re not particularly light given the competition (Sony’s LinkBuds S weigh just 4.8g, for example), but they’re beautifully well-weighted and the design feels like it wants to hug your ear and stay put, which is always helpful.

OK, the case is on the large side, plastic, and other options look a little more premium for the price, but it is perfectly durable and pocketable. Unless you’re lucky enough to bag a limited edition How High pair (which comes in a bright yellow and black color scheme – a nod to the music video for The Charlatans’ hit How High, in which singer Tim Burgess wore a bright yellow jacket) the M100 is available in black with more black only, so if you wanted something in white or silver, you won’t find it here. 

That’s not to say I don’t like the design; I do. The central touch-capacitive ‘button’ (you don’t actually have to depress it) on the top plate of each driver housing is easy to find has a nice tactile edge to it and is a chic nod to Cambridge Audio’s circle-within-a-circle logo. The controls also work very well indeed and each function can be toggled on or off if you won’t use it. I like that I can have Matt Berry announcing the ANC profiles when I tap the left earbud, while play-and-pause is a single tap of the right, and the on-ear volume control is handled by a long press of either bud (left to decrease; right to increase) which is always the best solution I find – because perfecting three or four taps so that your earbuds actually understand and respond accordingly is a big ask. 

  • Design score: 4.5/5

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: Voice prompts

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100

‘Southwark’ is the only English audible feedback you want (apologies to the other, perfectly lovely English voice prompt artist, but Matt Berry is unsuprassed)  (Image credit: Future)
  • Select ‘Southwark’ and you get Matt Berry 
  • No really, it’s actually Matt Berry 

In case it hasn’t been mentioned enough (and I feel it can never be overstated, so sub editor, please leave this in), by heading to the ‘Audible feedback’ tab in the app, scrolling all the way to the bottom and selecting the unassuming ‘Southwark’ option, the dulcet tones of Matt Berry will greet your ear. He’ll serve up delectable vocal morsels such as “Device one, connected” or “Waiting to pair” depending on how you’re using them, in addition to the standard “Noise cancelling”, “Normal” or “Transparency” and if you’re a fan of Matt Berry’s sizeable oeuvre, it’s priceless. It’s almost like having Steven Toast at your beck and call. (“Hello Steven, can you hear me? It’s Clem Fandango…”)

  • Voice prompts score: 6/5

Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 review: Value

  • As feature-packed as any earbuds has any business being for the money
  • A no-brainer for Tidal members
  • Unbeatable for comfort and sound-quality at the level

For features, noise cancellation and sound quality, these are a compelling set of earbuds – but them and you will not be disappointed with the levels of detail in your music and the near-silence they’ll add as a backdrop if you want it.

The AirPods Pro 2 will give you a little more dynamic zeal, and Denon’s PerL Pro will offer hearing tests and tailored sonic profiles. That said, both rivals will charge you a little more for it. 

Cambridge Audio’s focus here has been on detail, clarity and effective ANC. If those requirements are top of your list, these may well be the buds for you. 

  • Value score: 4/5

Should I buy the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100?

Buy them if…

Don’t buy them if…

Cambridge Audio M100 review: Also consider

How I tested the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100

  • Tested for two weeks, listened against the Technics EAH-AZ80, AirPods Pro 2 and Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds
  • Used at work (in the office; walking through London; on a train) and at home
  • Listened to Tidal, Apple Music Lossless, Qobuz tracks and Spotify on an iPhone 12 Pro, a Samsung Galaxy S22 and a MacBook Pro

It will come as no surprise to learn that the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100 became my musical companions for two weeks – after a thorough 48-hour run-in period. How else am I to test them? 

They accompanied me to work on weekdays walking (and on more than one occasion, running) to the station; boarding a train and on the London Underground; at the office. They also stayed in my ears during long walks on the UK’s Jurassic Coast, in Dorset – a great way to test any wind-interference from mics during calls.

To better test the battery life and comfort levels of the Cambridge Audio Melomania M100, I wore them throughout the working day and into a yoga class in the evening – and they outlasted my working day by some distance. 

To test the audio quality across the frequencies, I listened to our reference playlist but also my own music (spanning everything from country to classical) on Apple Music, Qobuz and Tidal, but also to podcasts and albums on Spotify – and YouTube tutorials (mostly about silversmithing, if you’re curious) from my MacBook Pro. 

I’ve been testing audio products for over five years now. As a dancer, aerialist and musical theater performer in another life, sound quality, fit and the user experience have always taken priority for me personally – but having heard how wonderful ANC can be when done well, I know what to look for. 

Read more on how we test earbuds at TechRadar

  • First reviewed: May 2024

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Get 1TB of FolderFort cloud storage for the web’s best price: $80

We all have more files than we know what to do with these days. That’s why a cloud storage solution is basically essential for anyone. But you want one that will make it easy to stay organized and won’t cost a bundle every month, which is exactly where this FolderFort 1TB Storage Pro Plan comes in.

FolderFort is an intuitive, high-speed cloud storage that gives you access to your files on any modern browser on any device without any installations needed. With this deal, you’ll get 1TB of cloud storage with FolderFort’s specialized user interface that allows you to create unlimited workspaces and collaborate with unlimited users. It’s easy to organize files, share your files and folders, and access files across devices and platforms. FolderFort is secured by Backblaze, giving you robust encryption, fast speeds, and unlimited safe expansion.

Enjoy a better cloud storage solution. Right now, you can get a lifetime subscription to a FolderFort 1TB Storage Pro Plan for 68% off $251 at just $79.99.

 

FolderFort 1TB Storage Pro Plan: Lifetime Subscription – $79.99

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