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Jabra Elite Active 45e Wireless Headphones Review

Tested using Methodology v1.4
Updated May 29, 2019 at 10:18 am
Jabra Elite Active 45e Wireless Picture
6.0
Mixed Usage
5.6
Neutral Sound
5.9
Commute/Travel
7.9
Sports/Fitness
5.5
Office
5.1
Wireless Gaming
4.9
Wired Gaming
5.6
Phone Calls
Type Earbuds
Enclosure Semi-Open
Wireless Yes
Noise Cancelling No
Mic Yes
Transducer Dynamic

The Jabra Elite Active 45e are designed as sports headphones, but their sound quality is sub-par and their fit might not be comfortable for everyone. They have a semi-open design that resembles the Plantronics BackBeat Fit, but it is more portable and delivers audio more consistently. These headphones are well-built and are rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, which is excellent. They are very stable due to their ear-hook design and will be a good option for outside runners who want to be aware of their surroundings. Unfortunately, these headphones won’t be very versatile and should only be used for sports.

Our Verdict

6.0 Mixed Usage

Sub-par for mixed usage. The Jabra Elite Active 45e have an uncommon design and fit that is unsuitable for most uses. They were designed as sports headphones that let you hear your surroundings. They don’t block ambient noise, so they won’t be great to use at the office or when you are commuting in public transit. Their wireless latency might also be a bit high for watching video content and gaming.

Pros
  • Durable build with IP67 rating.
  • Good control scheme.
  • Stable and breathable for sports.
Cons
  • Poor audio quality.
  • Design might not fit everyone well.
  • Poor isolation, by design.
5.6 Neutral Sound

Poor for neutral listening. These headphones lack a lot of bass and their treble range is noticeably overemphasized and uneven. We also measured a noticeable mismatch between our unit’s drivers, especially in the treble range. Overall, these headphones will be better suited for background music when running or working out.

5.9 Commute/Travel

Sub-par for commuting. These headphones’ design doesn’t create an air-tight seal that would block out ambient noise well. They barely isolate against any noise, which means they’ll let in a lot of deep rumbles from engines. Their battery life is also a bit short for long trips and they might not be the most comfortable option to wear for hours.

7.9 Sports/Fitness

Good for sports. These were designed for physical activity. Their ear-hooks are very stable and their earbud design allows you to stay aware of your surroundings when running outside. They are very breathable and you shouldn’t sweat more than usual when using them. They are also wireless, which means you won’t have to worry about a cable getting stuck on something and yanking the headphones out of your ears.

5.5 Office

Sub-par for the office. The Jabra Elite Active 45e don’t block out work environment noise like ambient chatter and A/C systems, and their battery life will be a bit short for a full normal workday. Additionally, their fit might not be comfortable for everyone and you might feel ear soreness after a while. On the upside, they can connect to two devices simultaneously like your PC and phone, and they have pretty good wireless range.

5.1 Wireless Gaming

Bad for gaming. These headphones’ latency will be too high for gaming and their microphone performance won’t be on par with a gaming headset’s boom microphone. They also aren’t the most comfortable headphones for long gaming sessions. Overall, these should not be used for this use.

4.9 Wired Gaming
5.6 Phone Calls
  • 6.0 Mixed Usage
  • 5.6 Neutral Sound
  • 5.9 Commute/Travel
  • 7.9 Sports/Fitness
  • 5.5 Office
  • 5.1 Wireless Gaming
  • 4.9 Wired Gaming
  • 5.6 Phone Calls
  1. Update 3/27/2020: Converted to Test Bench 1.4.
  2. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  3. Update 11/21/2019: Converted to Test Bench 1.3.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Style

The Elite Active 45e are sporty-looking headphones, thanks to their ear-hook design. They have an uncommon tip design that looks fairly similar to that of the Plantronics BackBeat Fit, but their cable is thinner and more portable. They also have stability fins to help them secure a good fit once in the ears. They come in three different monochromatic color schemes: navy blue, black, and mint green.

6.5
Design
Comfort
Weight 0.06 lbs
Clamping Force
0 lbs

These headphones have uncommon tips that you can’t change. They have an odd fit that resembles the Plantronics BackBeat Fit. They don’t enter the ear canal like typical in-ears and have kind of an earbud fit. Just like the BackBeat Fit, they sit poorly in your ears, which may cause ear fatigue after a while. Unfortunately, they don’t come with different tips, so their one-size-fits-all design might not be for everyone.

6.8
Design
Controls
OS Compatibility
Not OS specific
Ease Of Use Decent
Feedback Okay
Call/Music Control Yes
Volume Control Yes
Microphone Control Mute/Unmute
Channel Mixing
No
Noise Cancelling Control No
Talk-Through
No
Additional Controls Voice Assistant

The Elite Active 45e have a good control scheme that offers plenty of controls over your music and calls, but their buttons are a bit hard to use efficiently due to their small size and rubber coating. On the right bud, you can play/pause or answer/end calls, and you have volume controls on the bottom part of the bud. The volume controls are also used for track skipping. On the left bud, you can trigger your device’s voice assistant (they can also trigger Alexa on certain devices), and when on a call, that same button is used for muting your microphone.

9.2
Design
Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference 0.8 C

These headphones do not trap a lot of heat inside the ears and are very breathable. You shouldn’t notice a big difference in temperature and shouldn’t sweat more than usual when using them during your workouts.

8.8
Design
Portability
L 2.5 "
W 2.0 "
H 1 "
Volume 5 Cu. Inches
Transmitter Required No

The Elite Active 45e can easily fit inside pockets or a bag thanks to their design. Even if they are a bit bulkier than regular in-ears, you can fold them in a more compact format to carry them around. They are even more malleable than the BackBeat Fit. Unfortunately, they don’t come with a case or pouch.

0
Design
Case
Type No case
L N/A
W N/A
H N/A
Volume N/A

The Jabra Elite Active 45e don’t come with a case or pouch to carry them around.

7.5
Design
Build Quality

These headphones are well-built and feel durable for most sports activities. The buds are dense enough to survive physical damage from falls. They are also rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, which is great, but we don't test this internally. The only downside to their build is that the cable is thinner than the rest of the build and it starts from the ending of the ear-hooks, which seems to be the weak point of their design. You should still be able to wear these for most sports and activities without being scared of breaking them.

8.0
Design
Stability

The Jabra Elite Active 45e are very stable due to their ear-hook design. Even if they fit loosely inside the ears without creating an air-tight seal, they don’t move around much during physical activity. Their wireless design means there’s no cable in your way that could get hooked on something and yank the headphones out of your ears.

Design
Headshots 1
Design
Headshots 2
Design
Top
Design
In The Box

  • Jabra Elite Active 45e headphones
  • Micro-USB to USB charging cable
  • Manuals

Sound
Sound
Sound Profile
Bass Amount
-13.26 db
Treble Amount
-0.2 db
8.6
Sound
Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
0.28 dB

The Elite Active 45e have surprisingly great frequency response consistency. Even if they are semi-open backs, they deliver bass consistently, unlike the BackBeat Fit. They show little amount of deviation in the treble range under 10kHz. Overall, most people should be able to get consistent bass and treble delivery every time they use the headphones.

Sound
Raw Frequency Response
1.0
Sound
Bass Accuracy
Std. Err.
12.46 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
105.26 Hz
Low-Bass
-24.29 dB
Mid-Bass
-7.91 dB
High-Bass
2.6 dB

The bass of the Jabra Elite Active 45e is very bad. Their low-frequency extension (LFE) is at 100Hz, meaning they won't be able to produce the low-end thump and rumbles common to bass-heavy music. Accordingly, they lack low-bass by about 22dB, which is quite poor. They also have an underemphasized mid-bass, which is responsible for the body of bass guitars and the punch of kick drums. Additionally, their high-bass is overemphasized by about 3dB, which adds a bit of boominess and muddiness to their bass.

7.7
Sound
Mid Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.06 dB
Low-Mid
3.13 dB
Mid-Mid
0.19 dB
High-Mid
-3.08 dB

The mid-range performance is good. The response throughout the range is fairly well-balanced and even. However, the low-mid is overemphasized by more than 4dB, and is actually the continuation of the bump in high-bass. This will make vocals and lead instruments thick and cluttered. On the upside, mid-mid follows our target curve well and is within about 1dB. There’s a small dip in high-mid, which will have a slight negative effect over the projection and intensity of vocals and leads.

7.4
Sound
Treble Accuracy
Std. Err.
3.42 dB
Low-Treble
1.27 dB
Mid-Treble
1.03 dB
High-Treble
-0.36 dB

The treble of the Elite Active 45e is okay. The response throughout the range is mostly over our target curve and it is fairly uneven. This will make vocals, leads, and most sibilants sharp and piercing, especially on already bright tracks. There’s also a noticeable mismatch with our unit in the treble range, which is taken into consideration in our imaging test.

6.2
Sound
Peaks/Dips
Peaks
2.64 db
Dips
1.8 db
4.1
Sound
Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
0.3
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
8.73
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
9.45
Weighted Phase Mismatch
3.92

The imaging performance is poor. Weighted group delay is at 0.3, which is very good. The GD graph also shows that the entire group delay is within the audibility threshold. The large spikes in group delay below 20Hz are not in the audible range, so shouldn't have a noticeable negative effect on the sound. However, our test unit showed significant mismatch between the L/R drivers in amplitude, frequency, and phase. This can result in a loose bass and treble delivery and skew over the stereo image to one side. Note that these results are only valid for our unit, and yours may perform differently.

2.6
Sound
Passive Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
N/A
PRTF Distance
N/A
Openness
9.4
Acoustic Space Excitation
2.5

Like most other earbuds and in-ears, they have a poor soundstage. Due to their design, they bypass the pinna and don't interact with it. Pinna interaction is one of the big factors in giving the sense of a large and out-of-head soundstage, therefore, the soundstage of the Elite Active 45e will be perceived to be small and located inside the listener's head as opposed to in front. However, because of their semi-open design which is similar to that of the BackBeat Fit, they sound slightly more open and spacious than closed in-ears.

0
Sound
Virtual Soundstage
Head Modeling
No
Speaker Modeling
No
Room Ambience
No
Head Tracking
No
Virtual Surround
No
7.3
Sound
Weighted Harmonic Distortion
WHD @ 90
0.313
WHD @ 100
0.246
Sound
Test Settings
Firmware
Unknown
Power
On
Connection
Bluetooth 4.0
Codec
SBC, 16-bit, 48kHz
EQ
Default
ANC
No ANC
Tip/Pad
Silicone (small)
Microphone
Integrated
Isolation
1.4
Isolation
Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
Overall Attenuation
-2.91 dB
Bass
0.05 dB
Mid
1.95 dB
Treble
-10.3 dB

The Jabra Elite Active 45e have a sub-par isolation performance, which is due to their semi-open design. In the bass range, where the rumble of bus and airplane engines sits, they achieve no isolation, which means they won’t be a good option for commuting. In the mid-range, important for blocking out speech, they isolate by 2dB, which is negligible. In the treble range, occupied by sharp S and T sounds and fan noises like A/C systems, they isolate by about 10dB, which is very poor.

7.8
Isolation
Leakage
Leakage Audio
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
34.83 dB

The leakage performance of the Elite Active 45e is very good. These headphones don't leak in the bass and mid-ranges. The significant portion of their leakage is in the treble range between 5kHz and 20kHz. This means their leakage will mostly consist of sharp noises like cymbals and sibilants. The overall level of the leakage is not loud either. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 35dB SPL but peaks at 60dB SPL, which is louder than the noise floor of an average office.

Microphone
Microphone
Microphone Style
Integrated
Yes
In-Line
No
Boom
No
Detachable Boom
No
6.2
Microphone
Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
LFE
348.96 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
3.52 dB
HFE
3319.91 Hz
Weighted THD
22.618
Gain
43.36 dB

The recording quality of the integrated microphone is mediocre. LFE (low-frequency extension) is at 349Hz, which means transmitted/recorded speech with this mic will sound slightly thin. The HFE (high-frequency extension) of 3.3kHz indicates speech that lacks detail and is noticeably muffled. This will have a negative effect on the intelligibility of speech, but it should still be understandable in quiet environments.

6.0
Microphone
Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise
Speech + Subway Noise
SpNR
11.21 dB

The integrated mic is mediocre at noise-handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 11dB, indicating the mic is best suited for quiet environments and will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise in moderate and loud situations.

Active Features
5.9
Active Features
Battery
Battery Type
Rechargable
Continuous Battery Life
6.0 hrs
Additional Charges
0.0
Total Battery Life
6 hrs
Charge Time
2.3 hrs
Power-Saving Feature
Auto-Off Timer
Audio While Charging
No
Passive Playback
No
Charging Port micro-USB

We measured about 6 hours of battery life on these headphones, which is disappointing considering they were advertised to give 9 hours of continuous playback. They also take more than 2 hours to charge fully, which is a lot considering the poor listening time you get out of it. On the upside, they automatically turn off after being idle for 60 minutes, or 15 minutes when they are disconnected from a source. Unfortunately, you can’t set these timers inside their app.

7.0
Active Features
App Support
App Name Jabra Sound+
iOS Yes
Android Yes
macOS No
Windows No
Equalizer
Graphic + Presets
ANC Control
No
Mic Control No
Room Effects
No
Playback Control
No
Button Mapping No
Surround Support
No

The Elite Active 45e are compatible with the Jabra Sound+ mobile app. You have a small amount of customization options thanks to a good 5-band graphic EQ and some music presets. You already have two presets for commuting and a “Focus” one that is defaulted to ocean wave sounds. You can also EQ each preset and create your own. While the app is easy to use and allows for customization options, it still lacks a few features like a playback control or room effects. If you want a similar pair of headphones that include a unique personalized custom EQ option within their app, check out the Nura NuraLoop wireless.

Connectivity
8.2
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
2 Devices
NFC Pairing
No
Line Of Sight Range
135 ft
PC Latency (SBC)
218 ms
PC Latency (aptX)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX HD)
N/A
PC Latency (aptX-LL)
N/A
iOS Latency
14 ms
Android Latency
67 ms

These headphones support Bluetooth 5.0 and can also be connected to two devices simultaneously, which is convenient if you often switch between your work computer and phone. However, they don’t support NFC for a quicker and easier pairing procedure.

The Jabra Elite Active 45e have an average latency delay for Bluetooth headphones. This might be slightly too high for some people and you could notice a delay between the audio and video content, which gets frustrating. However, some devices and apps offer some sort of compensation, so it might not be as noticeable for everyone. This still won’t be suitable for gaming but could do the trick for video content.

0
Connectivity
Non-Bluetooth Wireless
Non-BT Line Of Sight Range
N/A
Non-BT Latency
N/A
0
Connectivity
Wired
Analog Audio
No
USB Audio
No
Detachable No
Length N/A
Connection No Wired Option
Analog/USB Audio Latency
N/A

The Bluetooth-only headphones can’t be used wired in any way and don’t have an included audio cable.

Connectivity
PC / PS4 Compatibility
PC/PS4 Analog
No
PC/PS4 Wired USB
No
PC/PS4 Non-BT Wireless
No
Connectivity
Xbox One Compatibility
Xbox One Analog
No
Xbox One Wired USB
No
Xbox One Non-BT Wireless
No
0
Connectivity
Base/Dock
Type
No Base/Dock
USB Input
No
Line In
No
Line Out
No
Optical Input
No
RCA Input
No
Dock Charging
No
Power Supply
No Base/Dock

These headphones don’t have a dock.

Compared To Other Headphones

Comparison picture

The Jabra Elite Active 45e are good sports headphones that set themselves apart by their design and are great headphones for outside runners who want to stay aware of their surroundings. Unfortunately, their fit won’t be great for everyone and they don’t have the best sound quality. See our recommendations for best overall headphones for running, the best Bluetooth earbuds for working out and the best wireless earbuds.

Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless

The Beats Powerbeats 3 Wireless are better headphones than the Jabra Elite Active 45e Wireless. They are more comfortable and their audio quality is superior. They also have slightly better isolation performance and they offer about twice the battery life of the Jabra. On the other hand, you can’t EQ them, which you can do on the Jabra. You can also connect the Jabra to two devices and they have a mic-mute function for calls. The Beats will also be a better option if you want headphones to run outside while being aware of your surroundings.

JBL Endurance Sprint Wireless

The JBL Endurance Sprint Wireless are better headphones than the Jabra Elite Active 45e. Their closed-back design is more versatile as they isolate more ambient noise and their sound signature is accurate and well-balanced. They also offer better battery life than the Active 45e. On the other hand, the physical control scheme of the Jabras is better than the very sensitive touch area of the JBLs. You also get an app that offers a few customization options and can connect them to 2 devices. They also feel a bit more secure inside the ears. The Elite Active 45e will be a better option if you want headphones to run outside with while being aware of your surroundings.

Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless

The Jabra Elite Active 45e are better headphones than the Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless. Their control scheme is better and easier to use, and they are more portable. While both headphones have poor audio quality and barely isolate, the Active 45e have the edge over the BackBeat Fit thanks to their app that offers a good 5-band EQ. The Elite Active 45e also have better wireless range.

Jaybird X4 Wireless

The Jaybird X4 Wireless are better headphones than the Jabra Elite Active 45e in almost every aspect. Their sound quality is better, their earbud-like tips are more comfortable, their app offers more customization, they have a slightly better battery life, and isolate more ambient noise due to their air-tight seal and closed-back design. On the other hand, the Elite Active 45e have a mic-mute function that the X4 lack and you don’t need a proprietary cradle to charge them. The Elite Active 45e will be a better option if you want headphones to run outside with while being aware of your surroundings.

Nura NuraLoop Wireless

The Nura NuraLoop Wireless are better wireless in-ears than the Jabra Elite Active 45e Wireless. The NuraLoop feel a bit more durable, have much more bass thanks to their closed-back design, leak less audio, and block significantly more noise thanks in part to their excellent ANC feature. They also long over twice as long off a single charge, and offer a unique automatic EQ feature for a fully personalized listening experience. On the other hand, the Jabra are a bit more comfortable, don't require a proprietary charging cable, and have a sound profile that can be manually adjusted via a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app.

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