Anyone who works from home on a regular basis knows this all too well: Laptop speakers just don’t cut it most of the time.
Sure, for a Zoom call or the occasional YouTube video, they’ll get the job done. But for jamming out to music or streaming your favorite TV shows or movies, a real set of desktop speakers goes a long way. At just $40 and with a cool design, strong bass, and the simplest setup imaginable, the Creative Pebble Plus is a strong contender to round out audio on your home desktop.
(Just make sure you have a healthy tolerance for cable management.)
Futuristic orb aesthetic • Bassy • room-filling sound • Quick and easy setup • Incredible value
Creative Pebble Plus is an excellent budget option for anyone who wants to enhance their home desktop audio setup, as long as cable management isn’t a turnoff.
Aural orbs and confounding cables
Visually, the Creative Pebble Plus speakers are hard to miss. You’ll get two black orb-shaped 4.5 x 4.8 x 4.5-inch satellite speakers with a flat base for stability and concave speakers, so there’s no question which side is the bottom and which is the front. The right-side speaker has a self-explanatory volume dial on the front and a high/low gain switch on the bottom. Enabling that increases the speakers’ power draw to output higher volume and better bass. The left-side speaker, on the other hand, looks exactly the same but has no controls on it whatsoever.
That right speaker does even more heavy lifting because there are four (!) cables coming out of the back side. One connects to the left speaker, one to a USB connector for power, one to a shorter AUX cable to connect to the laptop, and the last to a longer AUX cable that connects to a 5.9 x 7.7 x 8-inch down-firing subwoofer.
Introducing four cables to a desktop is going to create headaches for just about anyone, especially someone like me who isn’t the best at cable management. Port placement on your laptop can make this even more annoying; the headphone jack on mine is on the left side, so I have both the right speaker cable and the shorter AUX cable snaking behind the laptop’s display. It’s just too much for me, especially as someone who likes to put things other than a laptop on my desk.
Cable annoyance aside, Pebble Plus wins a lot of points with me by being incredibly simple to set up out of the box. It’s literally plug-and-play, as you connect the speakers to a laptop via USB 2.1 and AUX ports, rotate the volume dial clockwise to turn them on, and you’re good to go. As long as your desktop has a USB 2.1 port, you don’t need to worry about power outlets at all. If it doesn’t, Pebble sells a $20 power adapter, which admittedly makes cable management slightly worse and drags down the value a bit.
Assuming the best port circumstances, it just takes a few seconds to get rolling with your favorite tunes or podcasts. No need to install weird proprietary software or anything like that. As long as you get the cable mess sorted out, these are attractive little speakers that don’t look like they cost only $40. The best part is they don’t sound like it, either.
Full sound with the full setup
There are a few different ways you can use Pebble Plus, but to get the most out of these speakers, you should really make use of both the subwoofer and the high gain mode.
The subwoofer is just a big black box that doesn’t really fit visually with the rest of the package, but place it under the desk and you’ll never need to think about that. The speakers do work without it, but its additional bass output makes a big difference. The entire setup is honestly pretty weak without the subwoofer.
High gain mode isn’t as essential as the subwoofer, but it does add a nice punch to volume and bass levels. This adds enough to the overall package that I can’t really think of any reason to turn it off besides a desire to not piss off your neighbors. Even then, they should just get better taste in music, right? Anyway, one oddity here is that Creative’s website says you need the aforementioned power adapter to get the maximum high gain output because the speakers can’t draw enough power otherwise. In other words, using high gain mode without the adapter is good, but the best experience theoretically comes with the adapter.
Since I didn’t have the adapter, I can’t say whether or not it makes a big difference, but I can say it’s not necessary at all. Creative Pebble Plus pumps out very high-quality audio for the price, thanks to deep bass and rich higher elements of the sound. The speakers are respectful to whatever you’re listening to, producing room-filling audio that elevates the subtler nuances of a song even at a higher volume.
For some reason Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” sticks out from my testing. The percussion comes through with a satisfying crunch, the left/right stereo balance is just right, and the overall experience made me appreciate that song even more than I already did. What a bop.
The one “flaw” I found with the sound — and it’s a very forgivable one — is that the speakers don’t really produce omnidirectional audio at all. You need to be sitting in front of them to really enjoy whatever you’re listening to. Considering how the average person sits at a desk, that shouldn’t be a problem.
There’s no getting around it: $40 is an incredible steal, considering the overall sound quality and inclusion of a subwoofer. These aren’t the only decent desktop speakers that cost less than $100, however, but most of them don’t come with a subwoofer, and it’s hard to imagine many of them sounding better than this.
TaoTronics desktop soundbar ($40), which is just one speaker that can connect via Bluetooth for added convenience
Cyber Acoustics CA-3602FFP ($40), a similar two-satellites-and-a-subwoofer setup that looks less cool, but includes a separate control pod for volume
Sanyun SW102 ($38), two wired satellites with 360-degree audio but no subwoofer
I haven’t personally spent time with those other speakers, but based on how great Pebble Plus sounds, I’d be hard-pressed to consider any of them over Creative’s offering. Plus, I just think orbs are cool.
Worth it even with the cable mess
Creative Pebble Plus is an unbelievable bargain at $40 with excellent, deep audio output thanks to the addition of a subwoofer and a high gain mode. These speakers make working from home more fun, and the fact that you can go from unboxing them to using them within 60 seconds is a huge bonus.
Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of cables and that does hinder my opinion of the speakers to a degree. Adding four cables to a desktop that usually has one at most on it is a real drag. Different people have different levels of tolerance for cable management, so your mileage may vary, but that’s a pretty major issue for me.
Even with that in mind, Creative Pebble Plus provides excellent desktop audio for an absurdly affordable price. These little sound eggs pack quite a punch as long as you make use of the subwoofer and the high gain switch. I apologize in advance to your neighbors, though.