here goes the story...
for some reason, which i prefer to leave unmentioned, i thought that alsa would not be a good choice for my sound chip, an sis 7012 that came with my i-buddie a928. what would work better, i was told, was the i810_audio module. so i modified the file /etc/rc.d/rc.modules, at least that's what it's called on my system, and manually entered the i810_audio sound module. i also edited the modules.conf to alias that. i also changed the permissions for the /dev/mixer0 and the /dev/dsp0 to 777, although i've been told that 755 is what it should be.
as a result of these procedures, what was happening is that the i810 was loading before the alsa, giving me sound, but really cluttering my bootup messages by saying many times that intel8x0 could not find the device. so my next item of business was to stop alsa from loading. after numerous forum threads and a few websites, i figured that i really wanted a clean setup and that maybe i should just try the alsa out.
so i ran alsaconf. it configured my sound card and edited my /etc/modules.conf file with a whole wack of lines. i stopped loading the i810_audio by undoing my previous modifications. i got a message during bootup that alsa could not find anything stored in "alsactl" so i ran "alsactl store" the next time i was at the console. i'm not too too sure what that did, but it got rid of that message. the last thing i did was up the volumes with alsamixer, and the killer step, which took me so long, believe it or not, was to UNMUTE the master volume. i'm sittin there trying spacebar, the enter key, everything. then i did info alsamixer and was told that i needed to press the M key in order to unmute it. so i did that, and lo and behold, i had sound.
now i'm listening to "usher - my way" as i type this...