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Dell Inspiron 6400 audio/speaker issue

ok, so my laptop is now getting on towards being 3 years old, and its had a niggly annoyance since pretty early on, but it was *so* intermittent that I never bothered to get it sorted out... the right speaker sometimes cuts out... always used to only be for a second or two and then it would come back and be fine for ages...

there never seems to be a consistent state in which this happens (well, beyond turned on and making sound obviously)... it would happen with minimal load (ok, so I always seem to have between 6% and 10% cpu... but still, its likely to not be CPU-load related), and would occur both during interactive use (ie, when I'm typing/mousing/pushing player controls) and when it was just pretending to be an mp3 player with no interaction (sitting playing away for hours), and it doesn't appear to be related to component temperatures either... ...

I've had the machine to bits to see about loose connections, and everything appears to be clean and well seated... but its started getting both more frequent and longer in duration, to the point where I'm sitting listening to a mono laptop at the moment that occasionally breaks into stereo for a few seconds before going back to mono... and having just typed that, its literally just started stereo again and is still "happy" some 20seconds later... or not!!! doh!!

Oh yeah, using the output jack, its always been fine

anyone got any ideas about possible causes/fixes??