For reference, I started riding about 4 years ago on an older cross bike I got at a garage sale. Once I knew I was going to enjoy it for a good long time, I bought a new road bike that fit my budget. After a short time, I decided to lower the stem a little for a better fit. Unfortunately, due to my inexperience, I just took a spacer out instead of rearranging them. Basically I rode a couple weeks with an exceptionally loose headset until I realized the spacer needed to go back in.
Early this year, I started to notice a creaking sound from the front end area. After I ruled out everything I could grease or lube myself, I took it in to have it looked at. He replaced some bearings in the headset as well as tried swapping out the fork. Neither of those solved the noise. His final diagnosis after I told him about the spacer fiasco was that I likely "stretched" the base of the headtube just the slightest bit which is allowing for a minute amount of wiggle from the headset causing the creaking. From the little bit of research I've done, this seems plausible.
My question is are there any options besides a new frame? It doesn't seem to be a safety issue, but sure is an annoying sound to hear every time I hit a rough patch of road.
Even if he had traditional cups, it's quite possible the headtube can be stretched. Especially if he has steel cups in an aluminum frame; steel is about 4x as strong as aluminum. I've seen that one a couple of times at the shop, as well.