"It has difficulties to play vorbis here on ubuntu 10.10 due to some completely unknowable and unfathomable reason."
It may be less unknowable if you'd describe your problem in detail perhaps open a ticket in the Ubuntu bug tracker. :)
I've never encountered a tool that allowed you to use LADSPA plugins without a lot of technical fuss. Gstreamer is certainly not perfect but its strengths and weaknesses should be evaluated in comparison to the alternatives.