Pros: Excellent sound quality. Reasonable Price. Nice design and build.
Cons: Lots of fixed wires. No wireless connectivity. No control on the subwoofer.
The Creative Pebble 2.0 speakers, which were released a year ago, have received great reviews from the media, as well as the customers. Somehow, they didn’t make their way into the Chinese market until recently, and when they finally did, the reception from Chinese consumers seemed nothing but underwhelming.

The reason is quite simple: in the same price, there are many well-made 2.1 speaker systems to choose from, and an actual subwoofer is considered a must for the majority of Chinese PC users, especially those who would not spend money on more musically satisfying speakers.

And here comes the upgrade which is designed to please almost everyone. Not much more expensive than the Pebble, the Pebble Plus is now a 2.1 speaker system with a dedicated subwoofer.



The Creative Pebble Plus looks like the old Pebble with an added subwoofer, but that’s not entirely the case. The 2-inch drivers of the left and right speakers are still angled upward at 45 degrees to meet the listener's ears, but the passive radiators found on the back of the original Pebble is now gone. According to Creative, the shape of those speakers is inspired by a Zen Japanese Rock Garden, which I know nothing about. As someone who doesn’t have much respect for the Japanese culture, the only thing I could say here is that I also adore the unique but not too abrupt design.


There are as many as 4 fixed wires spilling out of the right speaker:
1)A cable with a USB-A plug for power.
2)An Aux-in cable with a 3.5mm plug for audio input.
3)An audio cable which connects the left and right speaker
4)A cable with an RCA plug for connecting to the subwoofer

In an era dominated by wireless speakers, this seems all too old-fashioned. Unfortunately, it is also not easy to hide those wires as they would likely run in multiple directions in the real-life usage, and you end up getting a pretty messy desktop.



The right speaker also houses a power/volume knob on the front, and a gain switch at the rear. The left speaker seems relatively clean as there is no control on it.


Creative has employed the minimalist design with the subwoofer, which sports a 4-inch downward-firing driver on the bottom side. There are 4 rubber feet to elevate the subwoofer, and keep a nice distance between the speaker and the desktop. There isn’t any form of branding or control here, only a port which is needed to for it to be connected to the right speaker.


Despite being an inexpensive system, the speakers and the subwoofer are quite well-made. They lack the sturdiness of those high-end desktop audio systems, but the build quality here does blow many similarly priced offerings out of the water. The only complaint that we have is the messy wires, and we would really appreciate the product more if they are detachable, or coming from the subwoofer instead of the right speaker.



Since all the cables are fixed, it is extremely easy to set up the Pebble Plus: connect the right speaker to the subwoofer, plug the power cable in a USB Port, be it on a PC or on a charger, and you are good to go.

What is disappointing is that the USB cable is for power input only, and you can not stream audio from your PC with it, the only way to get some audio coming is through the 3.5mm Aux-in plug.



The entire system is powered by USB. The left and right speaker can only deliver 2 watts of audio each, and the subwoofer is rated at 4 watts, you won’t get an ear-splitting amount of sound from them. The frequency range of the Pebble Plus is from 50Hz to 20kHz, so there won’t be incredible highs and lows. To be honest, I didn’t really expect much sound quality before receiving these speakers, but I was pleasantly surprised when I started to play some music with them.

Sources: HP EliteBook 745, Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Alldocube X, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Shanling M5.
Tested tracks:
Cardi B – Money
NF – Lie
Lady Gaga ft. Bradley Cooper – Shallow
George Ezra – Shotgun
John Mayer – New Light
Sam Smith ft. Normani – Dancing with a Stranger
Jess Glynne – Thursday
Tyga ft. Offset – Taste
Childish Gambino – Sober
Ed Sheeran – I See Fire
Mariah Carey – I Don’t Wanna Cry
Ariana Grande – Thank You, Next!
Migos, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj – Motorsport
Bruno Mars – Treasure
Halsey – Without Me
Whitney Houston – Run to You
Charlie Puth ft. BoysⅡMen – If You Leave Me Now

Compared to AC powered 2.1 systems, the Creative Pebble Plus pales in terms of volume output. With that said, even at medium volume, these speakers are already able to fill up my small bedroom with sound. When compared side by side with the built-in Bang & Olufsen speakers of the HP EliteBook, the Pebble Plus sounds much louder. Also, the quality offered here is extremely impressive, as these speakers sound well-balanced, clear and full of life.

There is a lot of bass, thanks to the dedicated subwoofer, and the low-end comes not only in quantity, but also in quality. It is sturdy with lots of intricate details, and can go fairly deep as well. Also, the ice on the cake is that the bass of the Pebble Plus never sounds too overwhelming, and doesn’t tend to bleed into the lower-mids like most similarly priced 2.1 systems do. The mids can sound a little recessed at times, but there’s still a lot of clarity in the vocals. The highs are bright and crisp clear, there is a decent amount of sparkle in instruments like a drummer’s cymbals and in the sibilance of a vocalist’s ‘S’ and ‘T’ sounds, but it is never really over the top. The soundstage and separation are also splendid here, even with some complicated recordings, the Pebble Plus still manages to handle everything with composure.


In comparison, the Mixcder MSH169 2.0 system almost matches the Pebble Plus in terms of the amount of bass, which is already impressive considering that it only has two passive radiators, but the quality doesn’t even get close. And when it comes to the mids and highs, the MSH169 just sounds too thin and unengaging, while the Pebble Plus offers a lot of life to these frequencies.


We also compared the Pebble Plus to the B&O Beoplay P2, which is a mono speaker that can only stream music wirelessly. The Plus does offer much more full-bodied sound, but the warmer vocals coming from the Beoplay P2 might sound a lot more appealing to average consumers. Also, being as small as it is, the P2 is able to produce similar volume at maximum.

Simply looking at the price tag, it is easy to assume that the Pebble Plus will be crushed by the $400 Vifa Helsinki in terms of listening experience, but that’s not entirely the case, at least not for us. The most noticeable difference is that the Pebble Plus is much more open-sounding, while the Helsinki does sound somewhat boxed most of the time. The two are almost evenly matched when it comes to bass presence and soundstage, but in terms of imaging, midrange and treble processing, dynamics and overall sound quality, the Helsinki is still in another league.


The Pebble Plus also works decently well with movies. Watching the thriller “Get out”, These speakers were not able to deliver the same level of immersive experience produced by my SONOS Playbase and Harman Kardon Aura Studio, but still kept me engaged by offering relatively accurate positioning, and decent sub-bass presence. But with movies such as “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”, which contain lots of intense battle scenes and thus require a lot more soundstage, separation and treble boost than usual, the Pebble Plus simply sounds too crowded and cannot deliver the listening experience the sound mixing in those movies deserves.

The sound of the Pebble Plus does distort at the highest volume, but it is to be expected for a system at this price point. Fortunately, distortion only kicks in after the volume has been turned up to more than 85% of its absolute output limit.

Overall, for an inexpensive, USB-powered 2.1 system which is meant to be used primarily with your laptop, the Pebble Plus leaves little room for complaints in terms of sound quality.

Final Verdict

The Pebble Plus is not for audiophiles, nothing at this price point is. Although the overall volume output won’t match that coming from an AC-powered 2.1 system, but the sound quality of these speakers is almost unrivaled in the same price range. PCMAG claims that “the Creative Pebble Plus speakers deliver the best 2.1 audio experience you'll find for $40.” And we have to say that we completely agree with them, or that we aren’t blessed enough to have heard any other speaker at this price point to offer fuller, richer and more balanced sound. If you need a set of inexpensive desktop speakers but don’t mind the messy fixed wires, the Pebble Plus is an easy recommendation.
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