[Editor’s Note: this is the second review in a series of wireless ear bud articles, written by Adam Bullock]
“..Goodbye cruel world, I’m leaving you today, there’s nothing you can do to make me stay, goodbye…”
There’s no need to escape the world any longer..
Testing out the Jabra Elite Active 45e wireless buds, I trialled a little Pink Floyd for sound quality (opening line is from ‘dark side of the moon’, for those not born before the invention of electricity..), a nod in the direction of my first encounter with high- fidelity music through a (then) quality sound system; a mahogany-veneer Marantz stereo system with speakers big enough to hide inside.
Forward to the modern technological advance of the personal-device-age, and we’ve now shrunk the lounge room to fit inside the individual…
Jabra Elite Active buds can potentially reach volumes that would have the neighbours complaining, however with the ‘open- ear’ technology, you can hear everything going on around you and no-one else needs to be invited to the party between your ears.
Powered by some jacked-up, meth -fuelled hamster in a cage wheel, the Jabra buds put up a whopping 9 hours of stamina for your sonic bemusement… whatever thermonuclear battery voodoo these things run on, it would be unlikely to exhaust them in one listening session. After running podcasts intermittently all day during the trial, I retired them and found battery half -full the next day when I returned for more.
The sound quality is great for what they are, though still not up to the studio grade that quality tunes are designed to be heard on… they’re decidedly ‘utilitarian’.
Bridging the gap between sound from the device and ambient hear-through will always mean a compromise for this type of technology. And to me it seems like a fair balance.
The Jabra Elite Active buds are designed with the active in mind, so it may be quite an authentic lounge room experience for most; a multi- awareness exercise.. Gym in front of the telly with the kids complaining and chasing the cat, knocking over the vase, trying to get to the mouse in the cage, all to the favourite soundtrack of ones choosing, without missing a thing!
I still find the novelty of bluetooth excuses the imperfect sound quality, and being about as sophisticated as a ham sandwich, I’m ‘easy pleased’ as far as being a discerning consumer of high- end, fine- dining -for- your- ears. To be honest I’d never heard of Jabra as a brand until now, but a little research and these guys seem very serious about portable sound engineering
The specs are impressive ; Ip67 dust/sweat/ waterproof, wireless bluetooth 5.0, 2 year warranty, compatible with Siri, Alexa and google assistant, open ear sound-through,. All with that powerhouse 9hrs play time, and super competitive in the price range. The mini port charging is easy and really fast (15mins ) .The call quality is amazing, utilising an innovative dual mic set up for ultra-clear stereo comms.
I actually found myself misplacing the headsets quite often, as they found the darker recesses under my car seat on more than one occasion.. Shake off all the mouldy-chip dust-bunnies and they’re good to go!
The apps’ ‘find my Jabra’ option functions to track the whereabouts of the buds when the buds go walkabout.
As to the ‘buds’ I used to party with- where all those lo-fidelity companions of one’s youth go, who knows… But these hi-fi gizmos are built for longevity, if not future-proof for obsolescence against the blistering pace of innovation, as the wired predecessors of ‘ye olde’- two years ago.
The Jabra app is also quite user -friendly and allows for pushing the bass up for a deep-tissue brain massage.
Last month I reviewed the Skullcandy buds, so it was a great opportunity to contrast a Jabra version fresh off the comparison. Though fairly different creatures, many things I didn’t like about the Skullcandy model were remedied with the Jabra. And yet, always the malcontent, there was still some room for hybrid synthesis- primarily in the design..
I’m a visual artist, so I get a buzz out of well-crafted form- The Jabra buds look like the arm rests off that favourite comfy sofa chair- not really sleek or inconspicuous, more like Lego bricks- and as aerodynamic as my family station wagon , they do seem to say- it’s what’s inside that counts.
The retaining clips are easy and the units sit very comfortably and confidently, whether running, busting -out impromptu breakdance moves, shower karaoke, eating a ham sandwich, in the gym or in the garden ( my favourite arena) where the IP67 rated instrumental accompaniment was most welcome.
They come in the three standard satin colours (matt is the new shiny and mint green is the new grey apparently). I usually go for Johnny Cash whenever there is a colour choice, but the navy blue is a close second…
Looks aside, these puppies function like pragmatic sheepdogs, uncomplicated, intuitive, untiringly robust in form and endurance .They aren’t the prettiest of appendages for the fashionista, but they will most certainly get the job done, and provide the mood enhancements -while you get to work.
RRP is a modest $116 AU, $79.95 US
That said, I think the “e” in 45e probably stands for Economy, rather than Excellent.
However, we know that Jabra caters for high end audiophiles as well and we will be one of the first sites to test the Jabra Elite 75t Titanium Black later this year. At about three times the cost these buds are touted to embody the 4th generation of true wireless buds!