Before we get to our JBL E45BTBLK Harman E45 Review, let’s consider that if anyone has ever wanted to get a serious pair of speakers for whatever use, they have probably considered JBL. Founded by Mr. JBL himself, James Bullough Lansing, in the US in 1946. He also formed another well-known speaker company, Altec Lansing.
We first came across them when we bought an old Fender bass cabinet that had JBL speakers fitted; They were good, very good.
Nowadays, the company is split into two areas of operation. One side for the Pro users and another for home entertainment. In both areas, they produce quality. The home entertainment side has since branched out to encompass every aspect of music for the home.
They were bought out by Harman Industries at the time that they were running around the world, buying anything that produces audio. Harman themselves are owned by Samsung in South Korea.
The JBL E45 BT headphones are just one of the range of headphones they manufacture. So, let’s take a look to see what they are all about…
JBL released a new series of headphones in 2017, the ‘E’ series. However, you couldn’t possibly accuse them of being behind in the production of headphones with Bluetooth capability, and they have a range at every price level. All are very impressive, as is the E45.
Because they have such a wide range, if you were looking for JBL headphones, it might get confusing. There are sets a little cheaper and a little more expensive. The JBL e450bt sits rather neatly in the middle price and facility wise. These are a very solid pair of headphones with what can only be described as a very good soundstage. More on this later.
They won’t compete with the high-level phones, but they are not designed for that. What they will do is give you a great sound at a very affordable price.
So, let’s take a closer look…
The Build & Design
The E45 have one thing in common with all the other ‘E; series headphones from JBL. They all look the same. We suppose that is to be expected. The design has a very JBL styling with the logo boldly displayed on both sides. The rounded corners are a nice design feature, as is the ability to swivel them around and fold them up after use.
They are an on-ear design which some like, but others do not. The big drawback in our view is that they will not eliminate external sound. Over-ear headphones are much more efficient at that, whether noise-canceling or not.
The build quality is high, as you would expect from JBL. There is a lot of plastic around, but that is common to all headphones at whatever level. The question is, do they feel sturdy and stable? And the answer to that is yes they do. At six and a half ounces, they are lightweight even though they have a strong build.
They are designed to fold inwards. The joint is quite strong and does not feel vulnerable, as is the case with some brands that fold away. But JBL omitted to include any sort of case or bag to put them in. Possibly we are expecting too much for a set of headphones at this price point. Each ear cup holds a 40mm driver that will give you that JBL sound, and each cup is labeled right or left.
A decent build quality then is achieved. They are strong and feel quite robust in the hand. The joints are reassuring smooth to operate, and the whole unit feels well-made.
The build is good, but comfort is, of course, important. How do they shape up? These are what are known as supra-aural headphones. To us, mere mortals, that just means ‘on-ear.’
A surprising thing about that is how they actually work. One-ear phones direct the sound straight into your ear canal. Sound does not behave like that in a normal environment. It is, therefore, not as natural as over-ear headphones that tend to sound wider and more spacious. They do allow external ambient sounds to be heard by the user. And that is one reason people prefer on-ear phones.
While, for the manufacturers, it can mean lower costs because the cup size is smaller, and there is less padding needed. It is the user’s choice, and many people do prefer the on-ear to over-ear designs.
There is no doubt that the padding on the ear cups is exceptionally comfortable. A decent amount of padding is a requisite for comfort. The foam doesn’t look particularly thick, and we suppose a closer look tells you they are quite thin. But the foam is soft, and the headphones don’t sit too tightly on the head. The lack of a tight fit and the fact they are light in weight means that the padding is more than adequate.
The headband is cloth-lined and has much less padding. There is a view that not much padding is needed on the headband, which we would dispute. We wouldn’t say that these are uncomfortable at all. We have reviewed recently a set of phones where there was no padding at all.
But if you are to wear them for a longer period, you want every surface in contact with you to be comfortable and adequately padded. These are just a little light in the headband area.
The ear cups, on the other hand, are excellent. A little more padding would have been a welcome addition to an already impressive build and comfort level.
The Controls & Communications
The JBL e45 bt headphones use Bluetooth 4.0. Nothing clever with the communication, you will receive the standard range of about 30 feet. That is, of course, without any obstacles in the way.
The controls, though, are not the easiest to operate. There is a control panel on the right ear cup. On that is the off and on power control and a pairing button for Bluetooth. There is also a multi-function button. It is here we have a few concerns.
We understand that space is limited on-ear cups, and it is not easy to easily include all the controls necessary. But multi-function buttons can be very confusing to use, especially when you can’t actually see what you are doing.
This button will control your calls and playback. It also has plus and minus indicators for volume adjustment. It works as a volume control by tapping it, but if you hold it for longer, it becomes a track navigator. The controls on your device will also work with this volume control. It is easy to do something you didn’t want to even when you are familiar with the operation.
One further operational problem is that the buttons are all placed very close together, which doesn’t help. Also on this panel is the connection for a headphone cable, which is included with a very small microphone pin-hole. It does switch quite easily, though from listening to music to answering a call. That is an important design feature.
The cable is cloth-covered and, therefore, quite durable. On connection, the headphones go to passive mode, and the Bluetooth connection is ceased. This helps to save a little battery life.
There is an inline mic and remote control unit with a similar setting to those on the earcup. On the left ear cup is a micro USB port for the charging cable. The cable is also included as part of the package.
The microphone quality, though on the earcup, is not particularly outstanding. Listening to what is being said is adequate, but when you speak, the sound at the other end is not so good. Using the cable with the inline mic and controls the performance in both listening and transmitting was noticeably better.
Battery life for the JBL E450BT is quite good at sixteen hours, though some claim it will stay operational for longer. However, the level of Bluetooth activity will have an impact.
To many people, the most important area, of course. So let’s return to talking about the sound.
Starting with the low-frequency ranges, the bass is quite deep but not to a point that it crowds any other sounds. If anything, it is a little light. Some will prefer that though we feel that maybe they could have made it just a little bit wider. This would have made them a little more versatile in the musical content that sounds good using them.
It certainly doesn’t thump, but then these headphones are not designed for the gym.
Mids are very nice with a warm sound but also with a decent presence. This allows vocals and guitars to be highlighted and not crowded out by the bass, which often happens. The drums, too, are nicely tuned in to the midsection, which works very well.
Sometimes with headphones where the bass is at a reduced level, the high frequencies can become very sharp. This is not the case here. If anything, the top end could be given a little more. Where it is needed in areas like the cymbals, the sound is clear and nicely rounded and not too crisp.
A very good aspect of these headphones is that the 40mm drivers don’t distort even at higher volume levels. They deliver a good soundstage for their price point. There will be others in the ‘E’ series range that will be better, but then they will cost you more. For the money, the sound produced by these headphones is very good indeed.
The noise isolation, of course, is not so good. Being on-ear rather than over-ear, they will allow sound out as well as letting it in. Use in public places or on the daily commute might then be a problem if you like a decent amount of volume.
Not sure if these are the perfect choice for you? No worries, please check out our reviews of the Best Wireless Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Bluetooth Headphones under 100 dollars, the Best Waterproof Headphones, the Best Bone Conduction Headphones, and the Best USB C Headphones currently available.
JBL E45BTBLK Harman E45 Pros & Cons
- JBL heritage, reliability, and design now-how.
- Superb sound quality.
- Extremely comfortable earcups.
- Nice understated design.
- Good Bluetooth connectivity.
- Very Affordable for a JBL product.
- Controls are confusing and difficult to navigate.
- Lacks padding on the headband.
- Low-quality microphone.
The JBL e45 bt headphones are a decent set of headphones and for the money punch above their weight. They have their faults, of course, and are certainly not perfect. But we suppose you could say what is?
We don’t like the controls and think they are a little confusing and not easy to use. The lack of more padding on the headband is a little bit disappointing, and the microphone is not that good. But let us not dwell on the negatives. They are set at a very affordable price point and should be judged by that.
The ear cups are comfortable and don’t fit too tightly, and they are very well made. The cups fold in for storage, and the design whilst plain is understated, which is nice. And of course, they have Bluetooth connectivity. Is there another set of headphones that will offer more at this price? They might be difficult to find.
JBL has created with their ‘E’ series a very good range of headphones that cover a range of prices. You pay for what you get. These are price set midway and prove that JBL has got it about right. The sound, especially we thought, was excellent.
So, in conclusion, this JBL E45BTBLK Harman E45 Review has uncovered a little jewel. These JBL e45 bt headphones are great value, comfortable with a good build, and a superb sound. All this and Bluetooth if you need it. Is there anything else you can ask for?