On my netbook killing pulseaudio was the difference between mumble taking 75% vs 25% of the available cpu. I saw similar although not as dramatic results when killing pulseaudio on an athlonII x4 I was using for a recording appliance. And the sound worked better off with it as well.
except that most people don't need a mixer at all.
I have my sound card plugged into a receiver with an optical spdif. The receiver is then plugged into the tv with an optical spdif. This way i can have audio output from the receivers speakers or the tv speakers. With pa either one results in multiple seconds of lag and pops and skips and crackles.. Literally seconds out of sync.. Just plain alsa works perfect. I'm tired of people blaming it on the alsa driver when alsa is what works. Obviously the fault is somewhere in pa not alsa. Alsa works PA does -NOT-.
FWIW, PulseAudio works fine on all my Slackware systems, without lag, crackles and stuff. Blaming your problems on PA when it possibly is the configuration of your distro, maybe?
Or how about we put the blame where it belongs? Alsa by itself works perfectly as expected. PA results in multiple seconds of lag. Clearly the problem is somewhere with PA. I suspect the lag has something to do with how much cpu usage PA uses. When playing back music with mplayer PA cpu usage is around 30% on one core. When playing back on vlc it's usage is nearly 100% on one core.
No matter how I look at it the problems all come down to PA.
Or how about we put the blame where it belongs? Alsa by itself works perfectly as expected. PA results in multiple seconds of lag. Clearly the problem is somewhere with PA.
That is a often made erroneous conclusion. If component B works on top of A and A works independently fine but has problems working in tandem with B, the problem can be B but also be an integration issue between A and B. For instance, PulseAudio uses more of the ALSA API than any other software and some of the ALSA issues have been found and fixed over the last few years because of it.
It's one thing to point out that Pulseaudio add latency and lowers performance in an application where CPU capacity is tight, e.g 720p video on a netbook. The latter requires both no PA and no desktop compositing to work. It's quite another thing to simply talk hate about PA and people who worked their tails off to create it. That makes heat but little light and could even delay bugfixes by driving off developers.
Before PA existed, I wondered why Windoze machines could mix sound but my Linux boxes could only have one device at a time claiming the sound card. Newer onboard sound on good desktop motherboards have hardware mixing, but my old $7 soundcards did not. Every added running service will use up CPU and add latency while also adding its own features. That means some folks will need to use it, others will need to not use it.
I don't run PA on most of my machines, but it will work on all of them. The reason I don't is that 4 core processors playing AVCHD files use up all the available CPU performance, as does 720P H264 video on my netbook. My 8-core AMD can play even the "difficult" AVCHD files with PA running, but I keep my OS setups as clones of each other.
On the other hand, I am not about to set up a machine with no hardware mixer for a "non-geek" end user without installing PA and making it work. Hell, without PA, my netbook requires JACK to be started just to play a mono sound file, as it's sound card lacks a mono channel. PA and JACK are literally the only way that machine can play a mono audio file. I use Jack for mixing on it, as I don't mind dealing with complexity to get 720p video playback on it, but that's not really something a distro could demand of all it's userbase. To distros: just don't make so many things depend on PA that users can't remove it for more performance or to deal with software that doesn't get along with PA.
Yes, there are problems with PA. Use it if it works for you, remove it if it doesn't, and REPORT bugs, same as all other software. The goal should be to fix the problems, not drive off the devs so PA never gets improved again or disappears entirely.