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We were smitten with the Creative Pebble from the start, for good reason—the petite speakers sounded great, yet cost only $25 at launch.
Since then Creative has released several iterations of the Pebble, one of them being the Pebble Pro, which hit store shelves late last year. It’s surprisingly feature-rich while offering fantastic audio, and a worthwhile step up from purely basic speakers.
When you pull the Pebble Pro out of its box, you’ll notice two things immediately. First, it looks just like the other Pebble devices—sleek and rounded—with similar proportions. The speakers take about as much room each as an average grapefruit (4.8 x 4.8 x 4.6 inches), and are a nice complement to the boxiness of monitors and PCs, softening the edges on a desk setup. On the bottom of each speaker is a round rubber pad for traction, ringed by a thin LED strip that can glow in rainbow colors. You control the three available light patterns (and color) through the right speaker’s controls.
Second, these speakers come with quite a few ports and jacks. On the rear of the right speaker, you’ll find a standard USB-C port that can carry both the audio signal and power, a USB-C Power Delivery (PD) port that can amplify the speaker output (but can’t carry an audio signal), and an 3.5mm auxiliary-in jack. Also at the back is the hardwired cable connecting the two speakers. On the side of the right speaker you’ll find two 3.5mm jacks—one for headphones, and the other for microphone passthrough. You get Bluetooth 5.3 support as well for pairing with PCs, smartphones, and other devices.
The button for switching between these different connection types can be found on the front of the right speaker, directly next to the volume knob. Pressing it switches between USB, Bluetooth, and aux-in modes; an LED light to the left of the volume knob will change color as you cycle through (purple, blue, and green, respectively).
No matter which connection method you pick, these speakers sound fantastic. High-frequency elements come through crisp and clear, and you get enough bass for balanced audio. The Pebble Pro reproduces vocals, TV and movie dialog, and phone call chatter with accurate detail, and more impressively, it does so at its highest volumes. Normally, distortion is often an issue with budget speakers, but not these.
And the Pebble Pro can really fill a room with sound, in part thanks to its 2.25-inch drivers with 10-watt RMS rating. (The original Pebble was rated at 4.4 watts, and the current Pebble V3 at 8 watts.) That’s even when you’re drawing power from the standard USB-C port, which works for any of the three connection modes. But you can juice up these speakers by switching to the USB-C PD port and using the aux-in or Bluetooth modes. (Creative recommends its 30-watt power adapter, but you can use any similar one you have on hand.)
Doing so will squeeze even more volume from these petite speakers—but most interesting is that you don’t just get a higher maximum volume, but an increase in loudness at lower settings, too. In our very informal testing (a sound meter app on our phone, held 10 inches away), the Pebble Pro clocked 74 decibels over a standard USB-C connection with Windows 10 cranked to 100 percent volume. On Creative’s 30W power adapter (connected via USB-C PD and aux-in for audio), the average was 80dB.
But the jump in loudness was bigger at 40 and 60 percent volume—an increase of about 20 percent when using the USB-C PD port and power adapter. That means you can hang out at lower volume percentages and still get plenty of sound. No need to crank until you have a party, at which point you can dial it up and fill your whole living room.
Plugging in 3.5mm headphones sounds just as good as when letting the speakers do their thing, though what headphones you use will influence your experience. Be warned: The volume knob on the speakers affects headphone volume, so if you have it fully cranked, dial it down before putting on your cans. You can accidentally (and painfully) blast yourself with sound if you’re not careful.
What about the Pebble Pro’s microphone passthrough?
The Pebble Pro has a nifty trick—you can pass the feed from a 3.5mm microphone through them when in USB mode, which lets you use Creative’s software for automatic muting/unmuting during calls, as well as filtering out unwanted noise.
The noise cleanup feature works remarkably well—and it applies to both incoming and outgoing audio. Creative says the noise canceling is best at eliminating static background sounds like fans, vacuum cleaners, and even lawn mowers, allowing you to speak or listen without those distractions. Our testing shows that it also works well on sounds like mechanical keyboard typing when you’re not talking. The recording we took of nonstop typing was virtually dead silent, with just a few seconds of sporadic bleedthrough clatter.
Should you buy the Creative Pebble Pro?
You could spend $35 or less on excellent speakers, like one of the Pebble Pro’s less full-featured siblings. But if you’re seeking more premium features, these speakers offer pleasing, crystal-clear sound with plenty of volume and practical extras that can enhance your PC experience. Plus, the RGB lights are fun to look at.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering software, PC building, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.