Links on SoundGuys may earn us a commission. Learn more.
Jabra Elite 45h
June 21, 2020
Original: $99 USD
186 x 157 x 60.5 mm
Two-year warranty covers dust and water damage
Jabra has a horse in nearly every race when it comes to consumer audio, and the Jabra Elite 45h is a great addition to the company’s portfolio. This pair of lightweight on-ear headphones is meant to accompany you anywhere and does just about everything well enough. Microphone quality is very good and battery life is the best we’ve tested, but some users may find it hard to justify full-fledged headphones when plenty of excellent wireless earbuds exist.
After spending two weeks with the Jabra Elite 45, we can confidently inform you of all its pros and cons.
Editor’s note: this Jabra Elite 45h review was updated on April 20, 2022, to include a Controls section and in-line FAQs.
- General consumers will appreciate these reasonably priced headphones. For less than $100 USD, you get great microphone quality, long battery life, and a portable design.
- Commuters may want to get the Jabra Elite 45h for its unobtrusive design, bass-heavy sound, and long battery life.
- Remote workers whose days are filled with conference calls will get a lot of mileage out of this headset.
What’s it like to use the Jabra Elite 45h?
Jabra’s on-ear headset is for the everyday listener, and the design reflects that: this is easy to transport. The Jabra Elite 45h is covered under a two-year warranty, which includes dust and water protection. While you may not want to do multiple intensive workouts while wearing the Elite 45h, you can skate by with some light exercise.
To stow the headphones in a bag, swivel the ear cups and insert the flattened headset into the neoprene pouch. Although the pouch isn’t protective against hard drops, it does protect the headphones from scuffs. The all-plastic construction may be unappealing to some, but it keeps the headphones lightweight and more affordable than alternatives with premium construction.
Synthetic leather wraps the memory foam ear pads, which are labeled with an “L” and “R” for easy identification. Jabra used a soft-touch rubberized material for the headband cushion, which is moderately comfortable. Despite the featherweight design, it takes just over an hour for throbbing ear and head pain to kick in—this happens whether or not I wear glasses.
How do you control the Jabra Elite 45h?
Rather than use touch controls, the right headphones houses buttons. Nestled near the headband, the buttons allow users to control playback, volume, and call interactions. A front-facing button on the other side of the ear cup lets you access your smart assistant of choice, be it Siri, Google Assistant, or Amazon Alexa. Pressing this during a call mutes your microphone. A final toggle at the base of the ear cup, near the USB-C input, may be pushed forward to manually initiate pairing mode or switched to power the Jabra Elite 45h on and off.
The Jabra Elite 45h doesn’t have a headphone jack for wired playback.
Although I generally prefer tactile buttons to touch controls, the layout of the Jabra Elite 45h buttons makes it hard to distinguish between the volume buttons that flank the multifunction button.
Should you get the Jabra Sound+ app?
The app also lets you customize your call settings by introducing sidetone functionality, which makes it easier for you to hear your own voice during a call. If none of these features interest you, the Jabra Sound+ is worth a periodic download because it’s required in order to receive firmware updates to your headset.
Does the Jabra Elite 45h stay connected?
The Jabra Elite 45h wireless headset uses Bluetooth 5.0 and maintains a reliable, stable connection so long as you remain within the 10-meter wireless range. Connection errors only occur when I use Bluetooth multipoint, which never works properly. When I play music on my laptop while the Elite 45h is connected to my phone, music playback never pauses to alert me about an incoming text or email. It does alert me to incoming calls though.
AAC is the only high-quality Bluetooth codec you’ll find here, which is a shame for us Android users. Android and AAC mix poorly, and AAC streaming is inconsistent across Android devices. The headset lacks a 3.5mm input, so high-resolution playback isn’t possible with the Elite 45h.
Minimal audio-visual lag is present when using the Jabra Elite 45h with an Android device. My eyes and ears quickly adjust to the half-second delay during YouTube videos, so the lag isn’t offensive by any means.
How long does the Jabra Elite 45h battery last?
Jabra makes bold claims about the Elite 45h battery life, championing 50 hours of music playback on a single charge. Under our standard conditions, in our testing, we got 67 hours, 17 minutes of usage from the headset with the constant playback of real music, peaking at 75dB(SPL). This is as impressive and probably overkill for most users.
The Jabra Elite 85h has the best battery life on the market.
Fast charging the headset is a breeze and proves efficient relative to other headsets with a quick charge feature. All you have to do is set aside 15 minutes to connect the USB-C cable, and you’re rewarded with 10 hours of battery life. Fully charging the headset takes just 90 minutes, which means you can quickly top up the headset between meetings or classes.
How well does the Jabra Elite 45h block out noise?
Isolation isn’t very good with the Jabra Elite 45h, but that’s to be expected with on-ear headphones. The headphones don’t place your head in a vice grip every time you wear them, so plenty of external noise will make it into your ears. This design can be a letdown and degrades sound quality. A lot of notes can easily get masked by outside noise, or sound quieter than they should.
Walking around town with the Elite 45h, I can hear almost everything around me. This can be good for safety reasons, but if you’re looking for a travel headset, the Elite 45h isn’t it.
How does the Jabra Elite 45h sound?
The Jabra Elite 45h amplifies sub-bass and bass notes to the point where they sound at least twice as loud as mids that fall between 300-700Hz. This kind of frequency response degrades clarity as it makes it hard to hear these important midrange frequencies that are commonly produced by string instruments (including vocals). The Elite 45h treble response is also louder than our house curve recommends for consumer audio products, meaning you may find poorly mixed tracks sound especially unpleasant. Fortunately, you can remedy all of this within the mobile app.
Lows, mids, and highs
In Good Morning Baltimore sung by Nikki Blonsky, the opening kick drum sounds much louder than it does with my Drop x Sennheiser HD 6XX. Cymbal hits and clashes sound louder than I expect and make it hard to hear the vocals during the first verse of the theatrical ballad.
Blonksy’s vibrato at 2:24 doesn’t sound great through the headset because of the exceptionally loud bass response. The background chorus is heard throughout the song, even during the last 30 seconds when it becomes the most instrumentally busy, but again, clarity could be better.
All told, the headset is fine for commuting and casual listening, but if you want to hear an array of instrumentation, not just bass, you’ll want to EQ the sound profile in the app.
Can you use the Jabra Elite 45h for phone calls?
The Jabra Elite 45h microphone quality is above average, and it does a good job of attenuating background noise. When there are high winds, the person on the other end of the call will hear audio clipping, but this is unfortunately normal in sub-optimal conditions.
Listen to the demos below and let us know what you think!
Jabra Elite 45h microphone demo (Ideal):
Jabra Elite 45h microphone demo (Street):
Jabra Elite 45h microphone demo (Wind):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Should you buy the Jabra Elite 45h?
The Jabra Elite 45h is a great pair of on-ear headphones for casual listeners, and among the best on-ear headphones under $100. Battery life is stellar as this can last nearly three days straight without a recharge. We also really appreciate how compact it is and the microphone quality, something Jabra usually nails well. Sure, the Elite 45h isn’t perfect, but that’s true for any headset.
Editor’s note: our Jabra Elite 45h review unit was temporarily provided by Jabra and operated with firmware version 2.3.9 during testing.
Jabra Elite 85h vs Jabra Elite 45h: When should you get over-ear headphones vs on-ears?
The Jabra Elite 85h may be within the same Jabra Elite family, but it’s a wholly different set of headphones from the Elite 45h. For one, the Jabra Elite 85h has an over-ear design to promote effective active noise cancelling (ANC). The Elite 85h ear cups completely encompass the ears and effectively block out background noise. The Elite 85h is also more flexible than the Elite 45h: the ear cups can rotate to lay flat and fold up towards the headband to fit in the protective zippered case.
The Elite 85h battery lasts nearly 35 hours which is very good but doesn’t touch the rated 67-hour battery life from the Jabra Elite 45h. Both headsets support fast charging: 15 minutes connected to the USB-C cable grants the Elite 85h five hours of playtime, which is half as efficient as the Elite 45h fast charging performance.
Neither headset supports aptX for reliable, high-quality streaming on Android; however, the Jabra Elite 85h houses a headphones jack for wired playback. Both of Jabra’s headphones support Bluetooth multipoint, but it’s more reliable with the over-ear headset.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless is a great buy for iPhone owners since it uses Apple’s W1 chip (older version of the H1 chip), meaning iPhone owners benefit from immediate pairing, more comprehensive onboard controls, and more efficient power consumption than when it’s paired to an Android phone. The Solo3 doesn’t have quite the same battery life as the Jabra Elite 45h, but it’s close and we recorded just over 45 hours of playtime from the Solo3 Wireless. With Beats’ fast charging, a five-minute charge via microUSB supplies 180 minutes of playback.
Like the Elite 45h, the Solo3 Wireless lacks ANC, though the Solo3 Wireless provides slightly better midrange frequency attenuation than the Jabra’s headset. You shouldn’t expect either pair of headphones to completely quiet your surroundings, but you may notice a bigger difference with Beats. Listeners who prize app functionality over all else should just get the Jabra Elite 45h, but if you have an iPhone and don’t mind the microUSB input, the Solo3 is a pretty good headset even today.
(Click the image to expand.)
What should you get instead of the Jabra Elite 45h?
The JBL TUNE 600BTNC, which typically costs less than the Elite 45h, includes premium features like active noise cancelling. Like the Elite 45h, the TUNE 600BTNC but this is good for listeners who like a bit more bass to their music. The TUNE 600BTNC has a 16-hour battery life and onboard mic and control systems.
Those who still want on-ear headphones but aren’t in love with the Elite 45h, might consider the AKG N60NC. This headset is old but its design and noise cancelling hold up today. You get great sound quality and a host of onboard controls, but it charges via microUSB which is a pain.
Go even more portable with true wireless earbuds
Listeners who don’t want to commit to headphones should consider the Jabra Elite 75t, which has very good microphone quality, solid battery life, and a stylish design. Athletes may want to spring for the Jabra Elite Active 75t since it has a more durable IP57 build. The Elite 75t series have noise cancellation, though it’s not very good. Want to stay within the same budget as the Elite 45h? Check out the Jabra Elite 3, the company’s most affordable pair of true wireless earbuds that still include premium features.
Frequently asked questions about the Jabra Elite 45h
The Jabra Elite 45h replaced the Jabra Move Wireless and Jabra Move Style Edition. If you don’t care about Bluetooth 5 or the best-in-class battery life, the Jabra Move might be worth checking out, especially since you can find it significantly discounted from its original retail price.
No, the Jabra Elite 45h does not feature water-resistant nano-coating. That feature is reserved for Jabra’s more expensive headphones: the Elite 85h. However, the Elite 45h does come with a two-year warranty that covers damage from water and dust.