Pulseaudio is a sound middle ware or sound daemon that usually sits on top of ALSA. ALSA can access its hardware via pulseaudio using the sound card PulseAudio that has far less option than accessing the hardware directly. There are also some tools as pavucontrol for volume control of pulse and papref for it preferences.

If sound quality is not a desired check accessing the sound hardware not using pulseaudio as madplay -v /<path>/<song>.mp3 or aplay /usr/share/sounds/alsa/* if this come out ok then pulse has done something with the sound (pulseaudio can also convert sound formats on the fly)

Linurs Servernest startpage