For a long time now, fellow-Gentoo’ers have had to edit /etc/asound.conf or ~/.asoundrc to make programs that talk directly to ALSA go through PulseAudio. Most other distributions ship configuration that automatically probes to see if PulseAudio is running and use that if avaialble, else fall back to the actual hardware. We did that too, but the configuration wasn’t used, and when you did try to use it, broke in mysterious ways.
I finally got around to actually figuring out the problem and fixing it, so if you have custom configuration to do all this, you should now be able to remove it after emerge’ing media-plugins/alsa-plugins-1.0.25-r1 or later with the pulseaudio USE flag. With the next PulseAudio bump, we’ll be depending on this to make the out-of-the-box experience a lot more seamless.
This took much longer to get done than it should have, but we’ve finally caught up. :)
[Props to Mart Raudsepp (leio) for prodding me into doing this.]