Creative Pebble Pro Review – Great All Rounder
I have to admit, as a hardcore headphones/IEMs aficionado getting desktop speakers is not on the priority list of “gears I must have”. I did buy a Logitech Z120 speaker some years ago but it’s currently collecting dust because I left it at my parents house. Also living in a rented room instead of a whole apartment to myself I prefer not to be the “speaker blasting idiot” of the house to my housemates.
But the desire for getting a good speaker is always on the wish list. The only thing that sort of prevents me from getting one is space. Bookshelf speakers are good for the price but I don’t have the desk real estate for it while compact speakers can be a hit and miss when it comes to sound quality.
Lo and behold, Creative slides in clutch with an offer to check out their latest speaker offering, the Creative Pebble Pro. The Pebble Pro is a higher tier offering of their Pebble V3 desktop speaker with significant upgrades in power output and better connectivity options. Oh ya, there’s RGB too. Pros love RGB too, right?
Physical and Build Quality
Like the namesake, Creative Pebble Pro speakers are shaped like pebbles. Two, big pebbles in fact. The drivers are at the front with their passive radiators in the back, and the drivers are angled 45 degrees upwards to the natural positioning of listeners ears for better direct delivery. Color-wise, the Pebble Pro comes only in dark green which is a bit unconventional but personally it matches my resident desk mecha Gundam Zabanya perfectly.
The front fascia of the right main unit contains the control components for the speaker. There is an LED status indicator, a digital volume knob, a mode switch button and an RGB mode button. The digital volume knob directly controls source device volume which is convenient in making sure what volume level I’m outputting instead of just guesswork.
On the right side of the main unit, there are two 3.5mm ports, one for headset and another for microphone in. The rear of the main unit houses the rest of the wired connections. An AUX port, a standard USB-C port for USB audio mode (compliant devices like PC and phones), and finally a USB-PD compliant port for unlocking high power output mode (will be explained later).
The cable connecting left and right speakers is 1.8m, which is the longest among the Pebble lineup and enables more flexible speaker placement. For accessories, 3 types of cables are provided in-box. A USB-C to USB-A cable, a USB-C to USB-C cable, and finally an AUX cable.
As for connecting the Pebble Pro to audio sources, you have three options. First is by USB audio through the main USB-C port, next is by AUX port which takes in output from any 3.5mm source like PCs, phones or DAPs, and finally Bluetooth 5.3 which enables wireless audio.
I absolutely appreciate the Bluetooth connection as I can just pair with phone or even PC wirelessly for a less cable-y setup. However only SBC codec is supported which is a bummer for HiFi audio but considering that I won’t strap these onto my head to nitpick every little detail, I give it a pass..
For output other than the speaker drivers, you can utilize the headset out port and the Pebble Pro will become a DAC/AMP. The dedicated mic-in port is also enhanced with Creative SmartComms Kit available through Creative software. With the SmartComms kit, one can utilize audio enhancements when in voice calls like VoiceDetect auto-mute and NoiseClean noise reduction for better call quality both inbound and outbound.
By default, the Creative Pebble Pro can output up to 10W RMS of power from the standard USB connection. But you may ask “Can I have more?”. Ask and thou shalt receive. The 2nd USB-C port with red label is USB-PD compliant and by plugging in a minimum 30W USB-PD (15V 2A) power brick, the Pebble Pro can produce 30W RMS of continuous output power with occasional bursts of 60W peak power.
A reminder that by only plugging into the USB-PD port the higher power mode can be unlocked. The standard USB-C port will be limited to 10W no matter what power brick you use.
All The RGB
Another major addition to the Pebble Pro from the Pebble is customizable RGB ring on the base of the speaker units. Adjustments can be on-device with no software required. Pressing the RGB button, modes can be cycled between pulse, cycle, static and off. Long press to enable color switch mode and use the knob to adjust color. The only downside is there is only a limited range of colors to choose from so matching your exact color is an exercise in approximation.
All Your Bass Are Belong To Us
Pebble Pro sound quality is excellent. The sound reproduction quality is great and I never felt that it lacks or over boosted in any frequency range. The mids and highs are just the right amount while the bass is not muddying the mids with great extension overall. Starro’s “Can’t Take It Back” panning jingles are crisp, RINI’s “Haunt Me” feels rightfully haunting and smooth, and CASIOPEA’s “Midnight Rendezvous” jazz funk delivers.
One major contributor is their BassFlex bass enhancement with passive radiator design. A simple explanation for a passive radiator is that bass frequency sounds need a volume of space for good reproduction. Usually this is done through a dedicated bass subwoofer in any x.1 setup. Passive radiator through the magic of physics simulates a spacious speaker and makes the unit able to output more bass than an equivalent volume unit with no radiator.
With BassFlex, the Pebble Pro punches above its size class in bass reproduction. Listening to rock and metal music like uverworld, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and KANA-BOON, you can feel the thump and hype. Slow and sensual R & Bs with deep bass the likes of RINI, Jenevieve and Maya Hirasedo are also delightful to listen through this set.
I am not the biggest bass head out there, so the bass is actually sufficiently strong to not require a dedicated .1 sub-woofer channel. However, having a dedicated port for a sub-woofer channel would make this even better in my opinion especially for bass heads.
Overall Impression and Criticisms
Some minor complaints. RGB color range is quite narrow and no brightness adjustment. The noise floor is quite high so when not playing any sounds, you can really hear the electrical noise from the speakers. Also the volume knob stepping is weird in that it steps in 2 or 4 steps in no particular order instead of consistent 1, 2 or even 4 steps.
However, these are minor complaints that do not detract from the excellent experience I had with the Creative Pebble Pro. I am very impressed with how well the Creative Pebble Pro performs as a compact desktop speaker. Great sonic performance, thumpy bass, option for higher output power, breadth of connectivity options and mode of operations makes this very easy to recommend as a starting speaker or even an upgrade for anyone. Alongside the previously reviewed SoundBlaster GC7, the Pebble Pro is now a permanent member of my desk setup.
Check out Creative Pebble Pro from their website here. Pricing is USD60 (approx RM 280) from their webstore.
Review unit provided by Creative.