So I was asleep, with my sleepy music streaming through the speakers, when all of a sudden... Yeah, after many years of trying to find a solution, that was the last straw for me. I couldn't stand the crappy onboard sound (the difference is clear as night and day), so I switched to the lesser known AIM SC808 and I couldn't be happier. I'd say that with the same OP AMPs I used with Essence ST, the sound quality is even better and there's no noise/hum on the headphone out. No problems and no screeching. Do your ears a favor and get yourself a new soundcard.