Permission problem with pulseaudio on 11.1 x86

As plain user, I get no sound out of pulseaudio, although all controls are on. Tried speaker-test -c2 -l5 -twav: got no sound, but this warning: Mar 31 23:24:34 theo pulseaudio[4618]: sink.c: Assertion ‘!s->thread_info.rewind_requested’ failed at pulsecore/sink.c:632, function pa_sink_render(). Aborting.
Tried speaker-test as root - voila!
Rather than fiddling with permissions for no apparent advantage, can I safely ditch pulseaudio - the rpm dependency list looks like the whole desktop!

Did you try adding yourself to group audio? There is guidance here:
SDB:AudioTroubleshooting - workaround a permissions problem - openSUSE Note it is easiest to restart after applying that fix, to check to see if it works.

I do not know enough to answer your pulse audio advantage question. Step 7 and 8 of that above guide also provides some links to pulse audio and phonon workarounds.