I find the same thing on my eeepc.
I find that there are multiple mixer apps, and they ALL have to have their sliders at or near max to get decent sound volume.
first, there's the pulse audio mixer, should be on the leftmost dropdown menu on the desktop. max out all the sliders.
then there's the alsa mixer, on the right-most dropdown menu, under HARDWARE / SOUND, crank it all the way up too.
Everytime I install a new kernel on F10 I have to go back and do those steps again.