As spring turns to summer, outdoor exercise becomes more appealing. After all: sun’s out, guns out. Typical in-ears make potential hazards difficult to detect, but the Jabra Elite Active 45e keep you safe while keeping you entertained. The ear tips allow external noise in, so you’re constantly aware of what’s going on around you.
Who is the Jabra Elite Active 45e for?
Athletes will get the most out of the Jabra Elite Active 45e. These wireless earbuds maintain a snug fit due to the ear hook design. What’s more, they’re IP67-certified. This means they’re one of the more durable pairs of earbuds on the market. The ear tips are deliberately designed to allow outside noise in, keeping you safe and aware of your surroundings. While this is at the expense of audio quality, it’s well worth it for outdoor athletes.
What’s it like to use the Jabra Elite Active 45e?
Operation is simple: each earbud houses a set of buttons. The right side is for power, call, playback, and Bluetooth pairing controls, while the left allows for voice assistant access and the option to mute the microphone. Having the volume toggles on the housing’s underbelly makes it convenient to adjust while running.
Wireless earbud cables can be a nuisance because they leave excess material flopping about, requiring a cinching mechanism like the Jaybird X4. However, the Jabra Elite Active 45e avoid this altogether by using a 298mm TPE neckband joining the earbuds. This is long enough to accommodate most head sizes.
I’m still not comfortable with how bulky these are, but I’ve learned to trust the ear hooks in maintaining a stable fit. I’ve run, cycled, and rock climbed with these and they never fell out. This requires you to take a moment and properly fit the hooks to your ears. To do so, straighten out the hook, place the earbuds in your ear, and mold the hook to the back of your ear. Aside from the secure fit, the IP67 dust- and water-resistance is invaluable and makes cleaning the earbuds simple. If damage occurs, Jabra provides a two-year warranty.
The ear hooks take only seconds to fit to your ear and maintain a stable fit during vigorous activity.
As with the company’s other wireless products, you can download the free Jabra Sound+ app to choose your voice assistant, track battery life, and set custom EQs. It’s one of few headphone applications that’s actually worth downloading.
How long does the Jabra Elite Active 45e’s battery last?
Our battery testing yielded 9 hours, 1 minute of playback. These earbuds can easily get you through a week of workouts, if not more. Like many workout headphones, the Elite Active 45e supports quick charging. Just 15 minutes of charging with the included microUSB cable grants an hour of battery life. For a complete charge cycle of the 500mAh battery, you’ll need to set aside two hours.
How do you connect them to your phone?
These earbuds use Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and can be paired to eight devices while connected with two simultaneously. You’re afforded a 10-meter wireless range, which is stable regardless of the environment. There aren’t any high-quality Bluetooth codecs supported. If you happen to watch videos from the treadmill, expect a one-second lag. The same goes for making any kind of command with the onboard controls.
What do they sound like?
These don’t sound great, but they’re not supposed to. Although the scoring is low for sound quality, it’s a feature of these earbuds. The ear tips are purposefully engineered to allow external noise in. This keeps you aware of your surroundings while providing better audio quality than bone conduction headphones. This would be blasphemous for a pair of studio IEMs, but is a necessity for outdoor runners.
The frequency response looks strange but, again, it’s because the ear tips don’t fully seal to the ear. The boosted response from 60-300Hz is needed in order to hear vocals and bass notes. The de-emphasis beginning at 2kHz makes it difficult to hear any resounding details from string instruments or cymbal hits. The tradeoff, however, is that it’s easier to hear external noise since those highly resonant frequencies aren’t being channeled down the ear canal.
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Lows, mids, and highs
Vampire Weekend’s song This Life opens with simultaneous picking of the B and G strings on the fourteenth fret. It sounds clear but becomes difficult to hear once the bass guitar enters at 0:13. Another guitar and intermittent claps also contribute to the song at this point. While everything is audible, nothing is particularly clear save for Ezra Koenig’s vocals. That said, the song is relayed well enough to keep you distracted from exercise-induced exhaustion.
How is the Jabra Elite Active 45e’s microphone?
The microphone sounds better than the scoring indicates. Its low rating can be attributed to the massive spike in vocal harmonics from 500-3500Hz. That said, most voices’ fundamental frequencies register below the 500Hz-mark. Since the response is close to the ideal (+/-0dB SPL) prior to 500Hz, voices actually sound surprisingly accurate with some echo which can be heard in the demo below.
Jabra Elite Active 45e microphone demo:
If you’re outside, the dual-microphone array doesn’t do a great job at reducing wind noise. The shape of the earbuds and how they rest against the ear canal creates a micro-wind tunnel that relays whooshing noises during calls. If you must take a call on a windy day, best to use your smartphone.
Should you buy the Jabra Elite Active 45e?
If you spend most of your workouts outside, yes, these earbuds are worth it. They put safety and connection strength above all else. If you’re looking for a comparable build with better sound quality, the Jaybird Tarah earbuds are similarly priced. Overall, the more I used the Jabra Elite Active 45e, the more I enjoyed them. Even when I wasn’t exercising but going for a walk around my apartment complex, it was reassuring to hear what was going on around me.
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