right, so I found a "workaround".
The issue - I
think, is in essence cpu starvation for openal. This can be offset by increasing the buffer that it works with.
For openal-soft, this can be controlled by the refresh property in its configuration file.
This file is called 'alsoft.ini' and is located in %APPDATA% (for windows - I assume ~/ for un*x ?). The path to the file can be controlled using the 'ALSOFT_CONF' environment variable.
My file looked like this:
refresh = 8192
which basically means I doubled the size of the buffers. This removed all of my stuttering.
You can see more in the sample config: http://repo.or.cz/w/openal-soft.git?a=blob;f=alsoftrc.sample;hb=HEAD