$30 PREMIUM sound? Creative Pebble V2 PC speakers review
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Looks like there’s some interest in us covering the Creative Pebble V2s! So we picked these up yesterday, and they actually go head to head with another -Large- manufacturer in the $30 dollar price bracket. So finally premium sound at 30 bucks? Nope, are you crazy? I say this up front ’cause some audiophiles are gonna get triggered. You know who you are.
Now these are the V2s and NOT the 2.0s, and yes, there’s a difference, verify you got the right one when shopping. But if you decide these speakers fit your needs and grab a set through our affiliate links, it does help us out a bit here, so thanks for your support.
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And tell us what’s your take on entry level speakers- do you prefer a 2.0, 2.1, 5.1 or better system? Find something good we should check out? Leave your comments down below. So what kind of sound can you get for just $30? Let’s get to it.
Creative Pebble V2 speakers: Quick summary
Just a quick thanks to FSP for sponsoring us, they just came in last week for our Intel vs AMD episode. So, quick summary: The Creative Pebble V2s are a really good deal providing best-in-tier sound but that comes with a few caveats. One, it isn’t premium sound but it’s pretty amazing considering the price, a pretty full sound which is slightly peaky in some vocals.
With music the Creative Pebble V2s deliver really decent sound for their size and price, and with the high gain switch and USB-C power they hit their peak before they hit max volume. The V2s, again not the 2.0s, are impressive.
So I know what you’re thinking, ’cause I’m thinking it too. Creative? Haven’t heard that name in awhile. Me too, last speakers I bought from them were the large wedges that delivered pretty decent sound for the price at that time. They’ve been quietly making a comeback, and speaker tech has improved a bit so with a mild skepticism I picked up the Creative Pebble V2s, which go for 30 bucks US, 25 jolly ol’ pounds, 54 Celine Dions, 69 Aussie dollars, 2599 Indian Rupees, and 1290 New Taiwan Dollars.
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45° tilted, 8w RMS on the Creative Pebble V2 speakers
Key features of the Creative Pebble V2s are the 45° tilted speakers at up to 8 watts RMS, 16 watt peak power, and this is actually powered by USB-C, pretty incredible it doesn’t need a wall socket. Construction is really solid, no flexing or creaking and the speakers will survive some tapping. Wiring overall is fairly sturdy, though the USB-C plug end may need care.
They measure pretty much 116 millimeters (4 1/2″) across in all three axis due to the flat bottom and back, though if you measure max length across the speaker plane, i guess you get the 122 mils. The non-detachable Right to Left speaker cable measures 135 centime- no, it actually measures 125 centimeters, but realistically when you turn them to be human usable, 5 centimeters are between the terminal and the outside, so usable distance is 115 cm.
Now this is better than the original Pebble or Pebble Plus as that cord is quoted at just 120 cm. Still, we would have liked to have seen an RCA jack, or 3.5 millimeter jack or something which would cost very little extra but allow consumers to lengthen the cable for cable management or to fit around bigger desks.
Smooth volume control on Creative Pebble V2 speakers
The Creative Pebble V2 volume knob is very smooth and there’s no static changing the volume, both channels adjust in unison, and there’s a very satisfying click off and on. The headphone jack and USB-C cables both measure 115 centimeters, not the 120 quoted on the website, measuring from cable exit to jack end here. Speaking of these ends, they’re more of a phone type, small in size.
The USB-C plug is compact too, so if you decide this is a PC slash on the road set, take extra care to grab the plug completely and don’t pull by the wire, you’ve been warned. I was worried that I would only have one or two USB-C sockets to power this, but the Creative Pebble V2’s ship with a USB-C to Type-A, standard USB, adapter. This means you can plug them into pretty much any USB socket delivering 5 volts and you’ll get sound. Speaking of a headphone jack… where is it? Don’t see that anywhere. That’s odd.
There’s a switch on the bottom of the right speaker, which also has the volume control. The switch goes from A to H, H is high gain, but what’s A? L for Low or N for Normal gain… A for USB Type-A? We’re figuring that A stands for Automatic, but Creative could have chosen a more sensical designation for the Low gain position.
On the back of the Creative Pebble V2s are passive radiators that help push more low frequencies out. The units came set to the High Gain setting, initial testing was done plugged into an MSI z390 Tomahawk motherboard rear USB-C port. On a subjective note, high gain and low gain listening ranges sound very alike, of course with a large volume boost for high gain, along with just a fraction more power in the bass.
Passive radiators; a phone can power this much sound?
I missed the Type-A adapter at first, and tried my Xiaomi Max 3 phone… I was super surprised that the phone could deliver the power required to push out this much sound. On high gain we hit the power delivery limit at around the 1 o’clock volume position, the Creative Pebble V2s would cut out every bass hit, coming back a moment later. So the gain should probably be in position A for phones.
With the Type-A adapter, I tried my Xiaomi 10000mA battery which does Quick Charge so I thought it might deliver more juice, and it could power the speakers on high gain mode. At first we thought it didn’t work but the USB-C end has to fully inserted to work, it was just a tiny bit out. We also tried the phone’s wall charger which also does Quick Charge and that powered the Creative Pebble V2s high gain mode fully too, so it looks like these is a valid power option, and if your charger or battery does Quick Charge you should get the full power range.
QC power banks/chargers power the Creative Pebble V2 speakers
Low gain mode also produces some pretty good sound too, without quite the same bass punch as high gain of course since bass uses the most power. Still pretty decent results. With high gain on and music playing, the single speaker producing the full range starts distorting the high end around the 1 o’clock volume position, and going higher, the bass starts sounding a bit sloppy.
The Creative Pebble V2s amp circuit is actually a bit too powerful on high gain especially for today’s compressed volume maxed music, though for quiet movies we think the extra headroom is really awesome. Now you won’t want to drive these small speakers on High Gain with music at full volume for too long, as you’ll probably end up damaging them. If you suffer from teenage angst and blast them as high as they’ll go, that may kill them kinda quick.
The Creative Pebble V2 speakers’ sound is impressive
So we were pretty impressed with sound quality of the Creative Pebble V2’s, and they’re now the current best choice at this price point. Not amazing or audiophile level, but for what you get… it’s really good. Certainly better than anything I’ve listened to in the last 2 years for 30 bucks. And again, V2’s are not the same as the 2.0’s. After a bunch of music testing, we found the volume went up smoothly and linear-ly, from low to medium to loud the response range stayed consistent. When we did our last speaker test awhile back, we lauded that set for powerful sound at this low price point.
We were looking for a 2.0 setup that delivered, and without a sub, the Creative Pebble V2s deliver really nice compact sound for $30 bucks, producing some good lows out of these tiny satellites, which you can feel a bit in the desk. A fairly flat overall response, it does get a bit peaky for some vocal ranges, with some vocals punching through a bit more while one song was just slightly muddy. Let us know if you want a comparison head to head video!
Creative is definitely on the right track to get back into the minds of gamers with pretty decent sound that everyone can afford for just 30 dollars. Fortunately we grabbed the right ones, as they released the V2’s after the 2.0’s and that naming change did nothing to make me think they were different models. C’mon guys, better naming system here please.
Consumers looking in this price range generally want a step up from tinny pod speakers with better power and sound, but maybe don’t have the space, budget or need for more. Though the Creative Pebble V2s can get kinda loud for their size, we didn’t confuse loudness for accurate sound reproduction.
We covered all the good stuff, and they are good, but there’s improvement needed, like a detachable speaker cable, and a headphone jack. I suppose if you’re close enough to your PC you just plug in there anyways, but I do end up using headphones into speakers once a week and that’s missed here. Also there’s no bass control, okay these are two satellites, but Creative, you put the effort in to make bass sound pretty decent, so some kind of control would help.
Other models in Creative’s lineup
If you’re considering other models in Creative’s entry lineup… If you only have 20 bucks you can still grab the Pebble 2.0’s and 4.4RMS 8 watt peak, though I’d have a hard time recommending those over the V2s with the extra power and headroom. For the Pebble 2.1 offering that has a subwoofer, it’s rated at 8 watts RMS too, except 1) the watts are split between the satellites and the sub, 2) the high gain mode is only available with a 5 volt 2 amp adapter and 3) this said adapter… is not included. 4) They go for 10 bucks more. Did I mention you’re powering a sub by USB?
Personally I’ll have to get used to high power draw from USB-C which can supply 5 volts at up to 3 amps. Audio circuits have momentary peaks when bass hits, so that will put current draw spikes through whatever is powering it, in this case, a motherboard. Just the idea of those kind of power draw surges coming from a motherboard or laptop… makes me uneasy. Hopefully we can trust the USB-C spec and manufacturers with the fault tolerances they’ve built in to protect these sensitive components.
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