No. AFAIK ALSA is ALSA. I've got a box under my umbrella with one of those VIA things in it, and it works fine. Are you running aRts or esD or some other sound server? That would be my first suspect. Some kind of sharing problem.
Nope, no arts and no esd. Those two were also my first suspect.I also checked if acpi was the problem (as acpi is often a source of really weired problems) and removed it from the kernel, still no change.