My internal mic isn’t working or picking up when using Google Voice. I was able to record a wav using arecord after opening alsamixer and turning on digital in the capture section but still not luck using internal audio with applications.
I don’t think it is the only way but might be worth a try. If that works maybe you will be able to sort out your other problems with pulse. I have this problem with skype. Without pulse the mic is very quiet even though setting all the volumes to maximum. With pulse it works out of the box.