My dell studio laptop has two sounds devices. Both of them are are Intel devices, one of them is the normal laptop stereo output, the other is the HDMI out. I've been having the problem that ALSA/Pulseaudio apps don't output any sound. I did manage to convince KDE to output sound but telling it go strait to the sound card, however that is less than perfect as I'd rather it went to pulse audio.
After digging into this for a while I discovered that the problem was the dual sounds cards. Alsa and PluseAudio need to know that the stereo output is the default. This can be fixed in YaST by configuring the cards in the correct order (the default one first). This article gave me the info.
At some point I'd like to be able to output digital audio so I will probably need to find a way of switching also/pulseadio between the two devices.