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Did you recently install Skype perhaps? When I did that a while back (on a LinuxMint13 system, which is based on Ubuntu, which is in turn based on Debian like your system) my previously working sound was completely demolished.
I was never able to figure out what Skype had done. I spend hours troubleshooting and researching. Since it was a brand new install of the OS, and Skype was like the 3rd or 4th app I installed after the OS install, I just reinstalled everything again from scratch (leaving out Skype!) and things were back to normal. Of course, reinstalling the OS to "fix" a problem like this is normally out of the question, but my unique circumstance let me perform a complete reinstall in far less time than the troubleshoting required to fix the Skype damage. It was definitely Skype. Sound working (for everything), install Skype, sound no workie anymore (for anything). The Skype install came from the standard Ubuntu repos.
Skype has an option that sometimes messes with your mixer levels. It is an option under Sound devices called "let skype adjust my mixer levels".
This option usually set volume levels really low. Depending on your sund card's ALSA drivers you could or could not reset them if you use Pulseaudio.
But if you look into alsamixer, all existing volume levels are there and you can reset them.
I don't have Skype installed. The last thing I installed was frotz using apt-get install frotz.
I don't have pulseaudio. Should I install it?
When I say that the volume is turned up full I mean all the sliders on the sound control are at max. I use headphones (and yes, they do work!) so I can't pinpoint exactly when the sound stopped working as I only plug them in when I need to.
My repos: (I know, it looks like you are running Debian Squeeze)
$ inxi -r
Repos: Active apt sources in file: /etc/apt/sources.list.d/antix.list
deb http://www.daveserver.info/antiX/debs testing main
Active apt sources in file: /etc/apt/sources.list.d/debian.list
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ wheezy main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ wheezy/updates main contrib non-free