When you buy a good set of headphones or own a quality set of speakers, you want the best audio you can get from your PC, and an on-board sound card likely cannot reproduce the clean, crisp sound you can get from a sound card like one from HT Omega's Claro Halo series. This series of sound cards offers high impedance, high signal-to-noise ratio and a built-in amplifier for headphones, which means you get impressive audio that's closer to the original recording.
A built-in headphone amp with high impedance up to 600 ohms means that it won't have to boost the audio signal as much as one with low impedance, and in turn you get less noise. The Claro Halo line of sound cards won't pull power away from your processor the way that an on-board sound card does, so you get better performance from your PC. Additionally, the HT Omega Claro Halo sound cards boast up to 120 dB of signal-to-noise ratio, which is a bit higher than standard on-board cards. This means you'll hear less of the noise and static, pops and whirs that occur while your PC is booting up, starting programs or running fans.
One difference between this sound card and many others on the market – including some sister series from HT Omega – is the connector. This fits a PCI slot, so you're likely to find a place to insert the card on your computer. However, PCI is considered outdated and is slower than its PCIe cousin.
Like other HT Omega sound cards, the Claro Halos come with a 10-foot optical digital cable, and support for coaxial cable as well. You also get two RCA stereo connectors on this sound card, so you can hook up a regular amplifier to boost your audio. And in HT Omega fashion, the software that comes with the Claro Halo is simple, rather than complicated. You can adjust levels of all kinds, but you won't get extras like gimmicky sound effects or head's-up displays with extra features that you may not need.
You'll notice that HT Omega doesn't include support for audio enhancement such as Dolby or THX, but it doesn't really need it if you're just looking for a sound card to boost your aural experience. This card, compared to an integrated motherboard sound card, reproduces sound that is richer and fuller, with higher highs and deeper bass.
If you're an audiophile who's looking for a sound card that's a big upgrade from on-board sound cards and that reproduces audio with clear, crisp, pure quality, the HT Omega Claro Halo is worth a look – whether you use a full speaker system or headphones.