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Creative Pebble V3 review: Versatile PC speakers for under £40

Andy White
17 Jun 2021
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
35
inc VAT

Now with Bluetooth connectivity, the V3 are the best iteration of Creative’s affordable Pebble speakers to date

Pros 
Affordable
Compact form factor
Bluetooth connectivity
Cons 
Weedy bass
Some distortion at high volumes
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If you’ve ever shopped around online for a pair of PC speakers, chances are you’ve stumbled across Creative’s Pebble range. The original Pebble speakers launched in 2017 and were a hit with those seeking budget satellites capable of fitting into just about any desktop setup.

We’ve since seen the Pebble Plus add a discrete subwoofer to the original Pebble package and the Pebble V2 shift from a USB-A connection to USB-C while improving power output.

The Creative Pebble V3 is the latest addition to the family. Although it lacks the subwoofer that comes with the Pebble Plus, it has an ace up its sleeve in the form of Bluetooth connectivity. That's a pretty rare inclusion for PC speakers under £50 and one that cements the V3 as a great choice if you’re looking for a versatile way of enhancing your computer’s audio on the cheap.

Creative Pebble V3 review: What do you get for the money?

The Creative Pebble V3 take the form of two spherical satellite speakers linked by a 1.35m cable and have a list price of £35, though they're regularly discounted on Amazon, as are their predecessors.

Each satellite measures 123 x 120 x 118mm, with the right speaker acting as a control hub, complete with a knob to turn the speakers on and off and adjust the volume. It also houses a non-removable USB-C cable that simultaneously powers the speakers and relays audio from your chosen source. Simply plug it into your laptop or PC and you’re good to go.

If your device doesn’t have a USB-C port you can use the supplied USB-C to USB-A adapter to connect. It’s a thoughtful inclusion that ensures the Pebble V3 are compatible with older hardware.

Analogue audio devices can be hooked up to the Pebble V3 via a 3.5mm jack on the right satellite but you’ll need your own cable to do this as one isn’t included. You’ll also need to connect the speakers to a power source via USB-A or USB-C as the V3 have no internal battery.

Bluetooth is the headline new feature and the Pebble V3 operate over version 5.0. That’s not the most recent version – we’re now seeing devices with Bluetooth 5.2 – but it still offers reasonable range and the connection remained stable throughout testing.

Pairing the speakers to your phone, tablet or smartphone couldn’t be easier. Press the small Bluetooth button on the right satellite and the speakers will immediately enter pairing mode. Unsurprisingly, given the V3’s price, there’s no support for advanced Bluetooth codecs so you’ll be making do with basic SBC.

The compact nature of the speakers means they occupy a minimal footprint on your desk. They’re also short enough to fit under a desktop monitor, which isn’t the case with taller alternatives such as Logitech’s Z207. That’s great, but these aren’t the most attractive of speakers – exposed copper-hued speaker cones are the only splashes of colour on what are otherwise rather drab all-black satellites.

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Creative Pebble V3 review: How do they sound?

You’re not going to get audiophile-grade sound quality from a pair of £35 speakers, but the Pebble V3 sound good for the money.

Stereo imaging across the two satellites gives a decent sense of width and depth, and the 2.25in full-range drivers housed in each speaker deliver mids and treble cleanly. The drivers are 0.25in larger than those used by the original Pebble and V2 but remain positioned at 45-degree angles to direct audio up towards your ears. It’s a smart design choice that worked well for the previous models and it works well again here.

New to the V3 is the incorporation of Creative’s “Clear Dialog” audio processing. This isn’t a sound setting you turn on or off; instead, it constantly tweaks the audio signal to help ensure voices are communicated with clarity. While the difference wasn’t huge, conversations and narration during the BBC Three documentary Fighting the Power: Britain after George Floyd sounded marginally crisper through the new model, which is good news for those who struggle to decipher dialogue.

The Pebble V3 fall a little short in the bass department, however. Their frequency response only extends down to 100Hz, meaning you don’t get any sub-bass coverage and low-end frequencies lack oomph. This leaves them feeling rather weedy when you’re watching action-packed films characterised by explosions and big, booming soundtracks.

If you want a beefier low-end, the Pebble Plus are available for a similar price and include a separate subwoofer, although you'll have to forgo Bluetooth. We wouldn't be surprised if Creative's next pair of Pebble speakers come with both Bluetooth and a discrete sub but for the time being you have to choose between one or the other.

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To get the most out of the Pebble V3 you’re going to need access to a 10W USB-C port/power adapter or a 5V 2A USB-A adapter. This is because there’s a gain switch located on the base of the right satellite that boosts amplification when the speakers are supplied with enough power. High gain mode automatically activates when the speakers are connected via an appropriate port and enables the V3 to hit a respectable 8W RMS.

With high gain mode engaged, the V3 proved more than loud enough to fill my office space with sound, but I did notice occasional distortion with volume maxed out. This isn’t a huge issue given you’re unlikely to be using them at full whack when sitting at your desk, but it’s something to bear in mind if you plan on blasting out tunes while entertaining guests.

Creative Pebble V3 review: Should you buy them?

If desk space and money are at a premium, the Pebble V3 are a no-brainer. Their small size allows them to be accommodated into all but the most cluttered desktop setups and audio quality is decent as long as you’re not expecting a deep, thumping bass response.

They're unlikely to replace your current Bluetooth speaker for wireless music streaming, but having the additional connection option is very welcome.

Versatile, minimalist and a breeze to use, the Pebble V3 are £35 well spent and easy to recommend.

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