Bluetooth Wireless Earbuds: Jabra Elite 45e Headset Review

Jabra, one of the early market leaders in the Bluetooth wireless headset space, has manifested its wealth of audio engineering and communication expertise in the Elite 45e Wireless Stereo Headset ($99.99). How does this high-end headset compare to the sea of other wireless stereo headsets on the market? Read on to find out.

The first remarkable attribute you will notice after unboxing the Elite 45e from its sturdy packaging is how the wire connecting the left and right earpieces is molded into a coerced curvature that loops from the collar to the ear. This flexible loop is designed to not only make it easy to quickly fit the headset to your neck and ears, but also offset the weight of the compartments containing the battery and button control pads. This approach literally put the microphone close to the side of your mouth. Using other headsets, I usually had to grab the in-line block on the wire containing the mic and shove it close to my mouth when speaking on the phone in a noisy environment. The intentional curved wire of the Elite 45e does that for me, and besides the occasional cheek bumps when moving my head from side to side, this in-your-face proximity of the microphone made for superb caller sound quality.

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The next novel feature of the Elite 45e is its magnetized earpieces. When they are brought together, they not only bond to keep the headset in place around your neck when you're not listening to audio, but they also act as a way to turn the headset off.  Separating the two earpieces will power the headset back on. Speaking of the ear pieces, I don't know how the Jabra engineers did it, but they fit perfectly into my outer ear. I was stunned just how snug, comfortable, and natural they felt. This is especially surprising for me since I am not a fan of ear fins. But somehow the fins on the default EarWing size were amazing and made my ear fin apprehension instantly dissipate. The package includes three different sizes of EarWings and ear buds to match a majority of outer ear shapes and sizes.

Everything else about the Elite 45e is what you would expect out of a Bluetooth headset, making it very quick and intuitive to learn. It can be operated using the volume up, down, and center pause/play/Siri command buttons. When wearing the headset, I found the center button easily by sliding my thumb and forefinger along the control block, but the volume controls are flat against the surface. It took awhile for me to learn exactly where to press to increase and decrease the volume.

Jabra advertises the Elite 45e's battery life to be around eight hours (with a full recharge time of two hours), and I found that to be fairly accurate. I was able to listen to an audiobook for most of the day without once hearing a battery low warning. Indeed, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised upon conclusion of the audiobook that my iPhone which started the day fully charged reported a lower battery remaining charge than what the 45e headset battery reading had!

How well does the Elite 45e headset sound? Pretty good actually. While it might not on par with audio from headsets like those from Jaybird or Bose, the Elite 45e's audio quality is perfectly suited for vocal content. Podcasts, audiobooks, and especially voice calls sound incredible. Music, particularly those genres intended to have bright treble, sound slightly muffled. Deep bass notes are also mildly toned down, but at least they won't blow out your eardrums. The music can be equalized using Jabra's Sound+ app. The app can also be used to update the headset's firmware.

The Elite 45e does not provide noise cancellation, and I found this to have significant impact on audio clarity during noisy city commutes. For those who listen to music or calls in such environments, Jabra offers the bulkier and considerably more expensive Elite 65e model. But if a majority of your audio interactions are performed in quieter environments, the Elite 45e audio volume is loud and clear enough for a majority of listening scenarios.

Final Verdict

In summary, the Jabra Elite 45e wireless headset is optimized for listeners who are seeking impeccable spoken-word and call-audio quality, decent music dynamic range, exceptional lightweight comfort, and minimal fuss.

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Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.