I use Windows so no stranger to hardware config issues, and the ‘use a USB soundcard’ is my go-to solution there too. Cutting the Gordian Knot, so to speak. So I’ve no problem with that for the Raspberry Pi. Also good for the RPi 400 - which I like the idea of - which lacks the headphone socket.
I have to remind myself that working with any conventional instrument can involve quite a lot of time maintaining it rather than playing it. So, you’re right. Fair enough.