This is one of those issues that you can seems to go around and around, and after a couple hours of troubelshooting, you realize that you did not check the most obvious thing first. At the bottom right hand corner of the desktop, near the click, is a little up arrow. Select the little up arrow, and a menu appears. In the menu, select the volume control. If volume is set to 100%, reduce the audio to 50%. If the distortion or crackling goes away once you reduce the volume, then the source of the crackling or distrotion was because you had the audio maxed out.