Sun’s out, guns out, which means more of us will be heading outside for workouts. While there are benefits to traditional earbuds, outdoor athletes should remain aware of their surroundings. Jabra knows the importance of vigilance and developed the Jabra Elite Active 45e with safety in mind.
Editor’s note: this Jabra Elite Active 45e review was updated on May 21, 2020, to include a microphone sample and address how the headset compares to other workout earbuds.
What is the Jabra Elite Active 45e like?
These are unapologetically workout earbuds. The bulky housings are strung together by a TPE cable and stiff, reinforced ear hooks. It’s easy to shape them to the back of the ear, and doing so is well worth the effort. I ran, rock climbed, and cycled while wearing these without experiencing any instability. Volume buttons line the bottom edge of the right earbud and were easy to reach, while the left earbud controls virtual assistant access.
The proprietary ear tips rested comfortable in my ear canal without creating a complete seal. While this degrades audio quality, it’s a feature of the headset because it maximizes security by keeping listeners aware of their surroundings. It’s more reliable than ambient aware or passthrough software, but may require some trial and error with the provided ear tips. Another great feature is the IP67 dust- and water-resistant build. This means you can take them to the dunes or beach without issue.
I was disappointing to see the microUSB input, rather than USB-C, for charging. However, the earbuds support fast charging: 15 minutes of charging provides an hour of playback. Meanwhile, it takes about two hours to complete a full charge of the 500mAh battery, which lasts for just over nine hours.
Is connection strength good?
Yes, Jabra’s wireless products have excellent connection strength and the Jabra Elite Active 45e is no exception. These use Bluetooth 5.0 and are afforded a 10-meter wireless range. While testing, a complete disconnect didn’t occur until the 12-meter mark. This extra flexibility is great if you’re at the gym and don’t want to pick your phone up from station to station.
The earbuds operate via Bluetooth 5.0 and remain connected beyond the 10-meter range.
The only downside is the lack of high-quality codec support. It makes sense because audio quality isn’t a priority with these earbuds. The lack of support results in slight lag regarding command responsiveness and audio-visual streaming. This is one of the drawbacks of the SBC codec. Supporting it is affordable and doesn’t require much processing power, but it suffers from high latency.
How does Jabra Elite Active 45e sound?
The 45es don’t sound great, but they’re not supposed to. Since these workout earbuds deliberately allow the ingress of outside noise, audio quality suffers. That said, they sound better than a pair of bone conduction headphones might, all while still keeping you aware of your surroundings. Bass notes are emphasized to make low-end and vocal frequencies stand out. Generally speaking, clarity is lacking because of the de-emphasized treble response. Due to the sound signature of the Elite Active 45e, pop, hip-hop, and rap sound best. To get a comprehensive breakdown of how the earbuds sound, read SoundGuys’ take.
The microphone is good for phone calls
Whether you field a lot of calls for work or have relatives regularly reminding you to come visit, this headset is well equipped to handle your hands-free needs. People on the other end of the call will be able to identify that you’re speaking through a headset microphone, but speech intelligibility wasn’t ever an issue during the full Jabra Elite Active 45e review. Don’t take my word for it alone; have a listen below.
Jabra Elite Active 45e microphone demo:
Should you buy the Jabra Elite Active 45e?
If most of your workouts are outside, yes, these earbuds are worth it. Connection strength and ambient awareness are key when exercising, and Jabra prioritizes both with the Elite Active 45e. Plus, the microphone quality is better than you may expect from an embedded mic system. Sure, they’re not the sexiest looking earphones, but when it comes to workout earbuds, functionality comes first.
For those seeking a more versatile pair of earbuds with better sound quality, check out the Jaybird Tarah. This pair of standard wireless earbuds is even more affordable than the Elite Active 45e, but earbuds lack any official dust-resistance which may be important to rock climbers. Another great alternative for iPhone users is the Beats Powerbeats neckband headset. This affords nearly all the same features as the Beats Powerbeats Pro true wireless earbuds for almost $100 less. Users benefit from direct access to Siri and more than half a day of playtime on a single charge.