You can also apply further EQ tweaks or employ a collection of audio presets typically found inside the Sound+ app. Because you can connect multiple devices at the same time, you can apply your changes from the app on your phone while listening to music on your laptop. That dual connection also makes taking calls a breeze. The software also offers a noise machine feature with everything from white noise to ocean waves — in case you need to relax. And if you misplace the Elite 45h, a Find My Jabra tool will help you locate it (if you grant the app location access). 

There are a few things the Sound+ app offers on other Jabra devices that aren’t available on the Elite 45h. The first is HearThrough or ambient sound mode. It might not be a deal breaker, but it’s certainly something to be aware of as that feature increasingly becomes standard fare. Similarly, the My Moment tool that allows you to customize presets for things like the office and your commute is absent as well. 

Sure, it’s great that Jabra gives you the ability to fine-tune the sound to your liking, but the default tuning is actually pretty solid. You have to rely on passive noise isolation to combat whatever is going on around you, but the main sound profile is comparable to what I’ve come to expect from Jabra. And that’s good for a set of $99 headphones. The only change I made was to keep the MySound profile active. I dabbled with presets and EQ changes before returning to the default audio. I found that songs lost some detail — like hi-hats and subtle synth noise — with the Jabra-made presets. So the default or “Neutral” option was always my preference. 

There’s good clarity and solid depth to the sound on the Elite 45h. Though as expected, it’s not as immersive as some pricier over-ear headphones. Still, it’s good enough to be your everyday listening companion. Chaotic metal got a little jumbled at times, but those songs still had solid detail, with highs, mids and lows all getting ample room to work. The Elite 45h also struggles with boomy bass, like that on Run the Jewels RTJ4 and Phantogram’s Ceremony. While things never got too muddy, there was some loss of definition on songs with a lot of low-end. 

Billy Steele/Engadget

Acoustic and synth-heavy electronic tunes fare much better on the Elite 45h. That clarity shines on folky tracks from Jason Isbell and Watkins Family Hour, and even with synthesizer-driven songs from Tycho and Steve Hauschildt. These headphones don’t have nearly the sonic range as pricier on-ear options like the Beats Solo Pro, but they’re good enough to handle most genres — especially at this price.

Jabra boasts up to 50 hours of battery life on the Elite 45h. Working from home, I never came close to pushing that figure to the limit. But according to the Sound+ app, after about 14 hours of listening, I still had 73 percent left. In other words, you shouldn’t expect to plug these in too often. And when you do, there’s a quick-charge feature that will give you 10 hours of listening time in 15 minutes. 

Jabra is positioning the Elite 45h as a solid option for calls in addition to music and other audio. There’s the aforementioned mute button which is handy in today’s virtual office environment, but the company also included noise-reducing microphones. You know, in case your home “office” isn’t always as quiet as you’d like. In practice, the results are a mixed bag. The person on the other side noticed that the Elite 45h sounded better than some true wireless earbuds I’d used to call them in the past (OnePlus Buds being the most recent). Still, these headphones didn’t do a great job of blocking background noise. The person on the other end noticed reduced rumbling when I was talking, but as soon as I stopped, they could hear it again. Even though there’s not a true ambient sound mode, I could still hear a bit of my voice during calls. I didn’t have to worry about shouting because I was overcompensating.

Billy Steele/Engadget

If the on-ear style isn’t for you, or you simply want a set of noise-cancelling headphones, Sony’s over-ear WH-CH710N is one of our current favorites. They were $200 when they debuted this spring, but as of this writing, they’re available for $128 at Amazon. With Sony’s mix of solid sound and ANC, the 710N is a great deal at that price. If you’d prefer on-ear with ANC, Beats Solo Pro is our top choice there. However, they’re more than twice the cost of the Elite 45h — even if you can find them on sale in the $230-$260 range (regularly $299.95). The Solo Pro does offer great noise-cancelling performance and good overall sound quality, in addition to hands-free Siri and quick pairing with iOS thanks to Apple’s H1 chip. 

Jabra’s Elite 85h were a solid set of headphones that were simply too expensive to recommend over the likes of Sony and others. With the Elite 45h though, the company packed most of its attractive features in an on-ear model that won’t break the bank. There are still a few things missing, but for the most part, Jabra has created an attractive and comfy option for $99. When you can save money without making a ton of sacrifices, that’s always a good thing.

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