Had a simalar problem with artsd and the sound in Gnome. From what I can gather from the mailing list and the bug reports, there is a bug in libasound2-1.0.11-5 that is causing all sorts of problems with the sound in Debian. If you are using libasound2-1.0.11-5 downgrading to 1.0.11-4 will solve the problem until a fix is uploaded.
If you do not have a previous version to fall back on in aptitude or in your package cache, download the package from here http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/pool/main/a/alsa-lib/
, remove the newer 1.0.11-5 and install the 1.0.11-4 version.
I just noticed that libasound2-1.0.11-6 is in the repos now, so upgrading to that may solve the issue--if not then downgrade to 1.0.11-4 until the problem is solved. This may also solve the problem for people with sound problems in Gnome.
Appears that the new 1.0.11-6 causes problems as well and fixes nothing so I'm going to downgrade. Hopefully that will return things to normal.