Solved. Bad VGA cable.
@mitu of course
I just found that out that it only works if my audio amplifier is shutdown. I have no idea since that both adapter and amplifier are self powered.
If I turn it on after the screen is show there is no problem, if on at the same the pi and monitor are turned on no image :(
No one has replied
I ended up just going back to the 3.5mm jack for audio in my cabinet. Based on the linked article, I just made sure I had the following settings in my config.txt:
For some reason my pwm_mode was set to 0 in my config and changing that to 2 resolved all my issues with the 3.5mm jack.
Unfortunately, I was never able to get the crackle / hiss / static noise issue resolved when sending audio out HDMI to my HDMI to VGA adapter.