Here's a tip from the SoundHOWTO. Does the noise seem to correspond with system activity? (mouse movements, disk activity, etc.) Try booting the kernel with the no-hlt option. The "hlt" instruction tells the CPU to go into a low-power mode when it doesn't have anything to do (which is normally pretty often). Usually this is a good thing-- it saves a bit of power and keeps the CPU cooler (over-clockers beware!). For picky sound people, the no-hlt feature can be a disaster: the CPU going in and out of hlt mode all the time dirties up the power supply very badly, and this gets into the soundcard.
To disable hlt, add this to your /etc/lilo.conf file (either at the beginning, or under each image section):
Then, as root, run
/sbin/lilo and reboot your system.
Historical note: I (SlinkP) started the AudioQualityHOWTO because a previously-quiet soundcard got VERY noisy when put into a new system. I searched far and wide before I found this solution (right under my nose!), and I put the information I colleced into the AQHT.
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