When it comes to PC audio, you’ve got a few options. If you don’t like your ears much, you can simply use the built in speakers of a monitor or the marginally better sound most laptops feature, or you can dive into the deep pool of PC headsets, at the cost of cutting you off from the world and, with a heat wave settling in over Europe this week probably make your ears too warm. No one wants sweaty ears, right?
The third route is to connect up some external speakers, filling your room with some sweet sounds. That’s why we’re here, and in terms of PC speakers few manufacturers have the pedigree of Creative. The Pebble Plus are the latest to draw on their decades of PC audio knowhow, and aims to provide a speaker solution that looks as good as it sounds, all at a deeply affordable price.
The Pebble Plus is a 2.1 set-up, with a diminutive subwoofer attached to two stereo speakers all of which is conveniently powered by USB. It’s worth noting that the audio itself is not provided by USB, but by the age-old standard 3.5mm audio connection, so it is worth considering how good the outputs on your PC are before jumping in.
The two speakers are going to be the main things you’re looking at, and fortunately they’re smart and understated enough to fit in with pretty much any set-up. The body of each speaker is made of sturdy-feeling matte black plastic while the user-facing frontage is a glossy black.
The left speaker plays host to the volume knob and power LED while the right has the Creative logo… and that’s it! They’re pleasingly straightforward, and when so much of dealing with your PC can be a bit of a nightmare, it’s nice to come across something that just does the one thing it’s supposed to.
With little else to compare them to visually, they’re egg-shaped with the gold speaker core doing a good job of looking like the egg yolk in a fancy restaurant you probably can’t afford. The speakers are angled at 45 degrees to point the sound towards your head rather than directly into your chest, and as someone who largely uses headphones I was impressed by just how distinct the audio actually was.
Listening to music through the Pebble Plus is something of a delight, and I came to regularly crank the tunes up while working such was the outstanding quality of what they spit out. The high end cuts through fantastically, while the downward-facing subwoofer provides just enough bass output to feel essential without overwhelming everything else and making your house vibrate. Overall there’s a great airy tone to the audio that does a good job of enveloping you in whatever you’re listening to.
Gaming with them is similarly great, and I found titles with orchestral soundtracks like Final Fantasy XIV and Assassin’s Creed Origins really came alive. Speech and the sounds of battle carried through atop everything else, and I was never left wondering what had just happened. Of course, you’ll be missing out on the benefits of surround sound when in a multiplayer shooter, and you won’t have a microphone to chat to teammates, but this is for those occasions where you don’t want to wear a headset.
Perhaps the biggest revelation about the Pebble Plus is its price. You can pick them up for a frankly ridiculous £35 and for anyone looking to immediately upgrade their PC’s audio output they’re an absolute steal. In fact, I’d say they’re more or less essential for anyone that’s just putting together their first PC set-up or looking to upgrade from an ageing pair of speakers.