New to this forum, so hopefully someone can help with this very annoying problem.
I have an HP 3 your old laptop. In the last several months, something changed so that it seems that when audio is coming from the sound card and the harddrive is engaged, I get quite a bit of static. You can see the hard drive light and the static usually (but not always) coorespond closely.
It is not tied to any particular program. You hear it when the Windows welcome sound comes on and the system is booting, and it is most prominent when I am listening to music on iTunes.
I noticed yesterday that streaming music is not affected, so I am guessing it has something to do with reading sound files on the hard drive. I have done some research but rather than make some suggestions, I would like to hear what people think.
More aboutcrackling sounds
sounds like a grounding problem, see if the HD is grounded right.
Its very common for integrated sound cards to pick up interference from other components and there is usually nothing you can do about it other than get a real sound card.
I hear the PCIMIA version of the Audigy 2ZS is nice.