Alright... so The Husband managed to get XP installed as a "virtual machine" (Thank-You!!). This is apparently the $200 option BestBuy offered me. It still doesn't work.
The latest theory is that it's the soundcard and not the operating system. To me, that's neither here nor there, because the bastard is going back.
Will be going to BestBuy today or tomorrow and will update as necessary. "I got my $600 back" isn't much of an update, but I didn't think buying a new computer would warrant 4 posts either, so I think we all learned something: Nothing is easy. If you've managed to convince yourself otherwise, you will be shot down, bound, gagged and flogged until you manage to muster up the strength to murmur "Uncle". Things may or may not get better after that.