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.........there are other possibilities like faulty amplification too but I gather in this case you are not hearing it through a hi fi system......if so *le sigh* you will need to listen to it through a whole new system.....it's a matter of a process of elimination.
Crackling (intermittent sound) on a speaker or earphone output is almost certainly due to a intermittent contact. Look for broken wires or dodgy soldered joints. This is particularly likely for the joints connecting the earphone socket to the circuit board of the unit because they are frequently stressed during use. Fuzziness or distortion may be due to amplifier or transducer failure. Reversing the polarity is unlikely to do any good.
Do you enjoy our podcast, incidentally?Chris