Freedom of choice is great - but SuSE 11.x definitely sports too many sound servers and backends. There is Pulseaudio (GNOME), Phonon (KDE4) and good old Alsa (just to name the most common ones), and I don't even want to try to understand how they work together or, actually, don't.
Repercussions on my system were that flash video in a browser doesn't play back properly as soon as any audio app is running, even with stopped playback. Sucks.
I decided to get rid of pulseaudio. You have to disable all pulseaudio support with
sudo setup-pulseaudio --disable
Afterwards, you can uninstall all pulseaudio packages, except for libpulse0, which seems to be a dependency of all sound-generating apps. This solved my problems for the moment.
For the Phonon/Pulseaudio discussion, see the disabling HowTo, Aaron Seigo's blog and the packaging mailing list.