Recordings have a distorted sound...

I just downloaded Audacity’s latest version on my HP laptop supporting Windows 11 and every time I’ve recorded anything with musical instruments, the playback sounds like a staggered/muffled recording. I fooled with the microphone settings and and even checked to see if I needed to adjust the quality with effects - nothing. Essentially, It’s acting like my soundcard is inferior to support the recording software when my laptop came with Realtek audio capabilities so I’m at a loss to understand what’s going on. Everything else sound-wise works fine on the laptop (gaming, etc.) and even deleted/re-downloaded the software several times. I had no issues when I used the software on my Dell laptop and on my eMachines desktop, however, I upgraded to a much newer devise to support music recording/editing. Any suggestions? I really don’t want to have to shop around for another recording software when Audacity has been so good to me in the past.

Windows/Realtek “audio enhancements” could be the cause, (e.g. noise/echo reduction).
Here’s how to switch them off …
(Disable any enhancements in the recording & playback tabs for a faithful recording).

If it’s due to “audio enhancements”, which affects the sound before it reached to recording software,
Audacity’s free (but inferior) competitor should exhibit the same problem.