Test pulseaudio 4 from ubuntu-audio-dev team:
Maybe it could fix pulseaudio issues you experienced in your test environment.
Would be good to see pulseaudio installed by default again as I have tried many applications and devices and today days seems to be better to have pulseaudio installed:
*kazam needs it by dependency but it is not installing it automatically (reported)
*USB headsets works better, or at least is easier to change between internal audio and USB with pulseaudio control.
*When I have virtual machines, audio works better with pulseaudio. I tried to use audio without pulseaudio and it was completely ugly.
That’s what I have tried and in all cases I needed to install pulseaudio to fix those issues.