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no audio

buster -- recent update(s), SuperMicro box

There's no audio, but there was a few weeks ago.

In alsamixer, I've tried selecting the mobo sound chip (HDA Intel).
When alsamixer comes up, it says PulseAudio is the selected card and
chip. I change that to the Intel (the card is HDA Intel, and the chip
is Realtek ALC888) and exit. No sound. When I bring up alsamixer
again, PulseAudio is the card/chip again.

I've read both the alsamixer and PulseAudio man pages and tried a few
things, no help there. I tried starting PulseAudio as root, and see a
line saying I should start it as non-root. I do and there's a line of
what to me is gibberish, but no error message. And there's still no

I've tried to get some sound with Audacity and SoX. In both, the
output 'meters' bounce like there should be sound in my known working
headphones, but there isn't.

I've heard that PulseAudio is the spawn of Satan, and I've used alsa
and its predecessor successfully for years with the mobo audio and
alsa with my RME Hammerfall card.

I haven't scoured to logs for errors yet...

Ideas? Suggestions as to what I'm doing wrong?

Glenn English