While wireless headphones were looked down upon for being too expensive and not sounding very nice just two years ago, things have turned around incredibly fast. Credit this to rapidly-improving Bluetooth technology, better chipsets on mobile phones and the dropping costs of the tech itself. What it means is that even the purists now don’t mind having a wireless headset for certain use cases. Also Read - Samsung's two unnamed phones get Bluetooth certificationAlso Read - Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earbuds 2C headphones launched in India
In real-life, this means better headphones from better brands that don’t cost a lot of money. We reviewed the Jabra Elite 45e, which is available at Rs 7,499. And while Rs 7,499 is obviously a lot of money, think of the value-for-money proposition here; Danish brand Jabra is considered among the world’s best when it comes to wireless audio, having pioneered the use of Bluetooth from way back when it was still expensive. We’ve put the wireless Jabra Elite 45e through the paces to find out if it’s worth its asking price. Also Read - Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 Basic to launch soon in India
Jabra Elite 45e Design and Specifications
As with many headphones in this price range, the Jabra Elite 45e sports a collar-band style design and fit, with two wired earbuds running from the ends of the collar to your ears. While not typical in-canal earbuds, these come somewhere in between the deep fit and the more comfortable outside fit, using winged supports to hold the earbuds in place. The fit isn’t ideal for noise-isolation, and indeed you’ll be able to hear ambient sounds quite clearly as a result. This might actually be useful if you intend to use these headphones when out and about, but that entirely depends on your use case.
While the collar-band design is fairly straightforward, its flexibility is quite bothersome in practice. The band often shifts in its place, which can get a bit uncomfortable to use. The in-line remote and microphone are interestingly located on different modules, with the remote on the collar and the microphone located further down on the cable. The remote is a bit difficult to reach at times, while the microphone is well placed for voice calls.
In terms of design though, this is classic Jabra. It’s designed to be functional and understated, and the Elite 45e carries off that aesthetic quite well. The in-line remote has controls for volume and power, while the microphone has a separate button that triggers the voice-assistant functionality. When paired with an Android or iOS smartphone, the Jabra Elite 45e can be used to directly communicate with Google Assistant or Siri. Additionally, the two earbuds can be magnetically linked and separated, which controls your music or calls, similar to what we’ve seen on the OnePlus Bullets Wireless.
When it comes to specifications, the Jabra Elite 45e promises 8-hour battery life, a dual-microphone system with ambient noise reduction for better performance on voice calls, IP54 dust and water resistance, and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. The box includes additional ear-tips and wings to adjust the fit to your needs.
Jabra Elite 45e Performance
While I’ll get to performance with music in a bit, let’s first start with how the Jabra Elite 45e does on voice calls. Jabra’s traditional expertise is in enabling better wireless voice audio, with the company having developed some of the best mono audio headsets for calling in the early days of wireless audio. The headset does this with its own noise reduction, using its microphones to capture the voice better while reducing ambient sounds and even nearby voices. This does in fact work in practice, and the Jabra Elite 45e is thus ideal if you intend to use it more for hands-free voice calls.
The sound tuning in the earbuds is also similarly focused on voice, so you’ll hear this even when listening to music. Unlike most headphones that tend to boost bass and treble while slightly reducing response in the mid range, the Jabra Elite 45e is mid-range focused. You’ll hear vocals clearer as a result, with a fairly neutral sonic signature on the whole.
The sound also tends to come across as a bit more open. It isn’t quite as exciting as I found on the OnePlus Bullets Wireless, but the open-ness might suit listeners of certain genres such as classical music and soft rock. Meanwhile, tracks with strong beats and heavy bass tend to sound a bit flat, lacking in the pure energy but making up for its by way of the tonality of the music. If a clean sound is what you seek, the Jabra Elite 45e won’t let you down.
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The Jabra Elite 45e sits in the middle of the Elite range from the Danish audio specialist, and as such offers that exact level of mid-range performance you’d expect. If you’re looking for wireless headphones to listen to music on, the Elite 45e makes sense if you like the sound a bit flat. Where the headset truly excels is on voice calls; if you spend a lot of time talking on the phone and want a wireless option for that, the Elite 45e will do a great job.
At Rs 7,499, you’re getting a good product from a reputed brand that knows how to do Bluetooth properly. However, bear in mind that it isn’t the most comfortable option around, and noise-isolation is on the weak side of things. It’s available now through Jabra authorized retailers and online as well, and you have two color options – Black and Gold – to choose from.