When I was hired at my current employer in 2012, I got a Thinkpad T-series laptop. I installed Debian Squeeze with the XFCE desktop environment on it, and it worked beautifully. I dist-upgraded that installation to Wheezy when that release was made. No problems, everything just continued working. After Wheezy became oldstable, I dist-upgraded to Jessie. No problems, everything just continued working. A few months ago, I switched to a Skylake-powered desktop machine, simply by transferring all the data on the Thinkpad's SSD to my new rig's larger one. No problems, everything just continued working.
Today I got a notification from Firefox (I install new releases via Debian's mozilla repository, https://mozilla.debian.net/) that it won't be able to play back sound if I didn't install PulseAudio. A quick `sudo apt-get install pulseaudio` and a reboot (to also apply a pending Kernel upgrade) later: No problems, everything just continued working. `mpv` defaults to the pulse output instead of alsa automatically, apparently. Firefox, once again, plays back sound out of the box. My desktop audio player (some xmms-fork whose name I can't recall right now) needed to be switched from plain ALSA to pulse via its configuration panel - that was it. My stereo headset becomes the active, default output once I plug it in, and the speakers assume that role as soon as I unplug it. Also, the PulseAudio/pavucontrol features I gained from finally switching are pretty neat.
Bottom line, I guess: PulseAudio in 2017 _just effin' works_. Save yourself some time, skip the whining and bitching, get with the times and install it already.