My success rate has been 100%. ESD constantly crashed on me, and ALSA dmix has locked up on me before.
Obviously, that was a problem with your configuration or harware.
(That's a little joke. But do try the latest ESD nightlies! They're fantastic!)
I quite agree with you about anecdotal evidence. Unfortunately, it's pretty much all we have in Desktop Linux. Rightly or wrongly, one's own anecdotes take priority over others' anecdotes. And there is some justification for that. About all we can do right now is keep careful notes and do the best we can with the information we have, trying to keep in mind the 'p' significance of our own personal datasets.
It would be much nicer to have actual data. But indeed, the plural of "anecdote" is not "data".
On my machines, and my customers' machines, over the last serval years, PA has been pretty much a failure.