Skippy/crackly audio. Speakers likely not at fault. Do I need a new sound card?

puggy

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Oct 2, 2014
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I'm running Windows XP, and my present sound card is a Realtek AC97. I've counted out the speakers as the cause of this problem, because they work fine with all other devices.

This crackly/skippy effect occurs sporadically - it's not at all consistent. It doesn't occur when no audio is playing. It seems to intensify during CPU spikes and when I'm plugging in/taking out the speaker plug. I updated my drivers to notice a slight change - where before this sound was a bit more on the percussive/crackly side, now it's more just skippy.

Is my sound card fried? Is there anything I can do?

EDIT: Something I forgot to mention: I've had this computer since 2008, and only had this problem for a few weeks. I haven't made any changes to it recently, either.
 
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