PA itself is plainly necessary: most modern sound hardware can't mix, so the first open()er blocks all the rest. This is more than slightly aggravating to users (the difference between a very long block and a crash is not very large from a user perspective).
PA is really not that bad. Yes, it was buggy once upon a time (mostly because it used features that had never been used by anyone else), but these days it largely Just Works.
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