Hmm, well the above two solutions worked very poorly for me, but I have a workaround: install pulseaudio-equalizer
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sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8 && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install pulseaudio-equalizer
Run it and check "EQ enabled".
When you enable the equalizer, a "LADSPA Plugin Multiband EQ" appears in the volume controls of the sound preferences. Setting your default output to 100% and then using the volume buttons gives the following result:
volume buttons control the equalizer, default sink stays at 100% - woohoo
Have sound 'till 0% AND an equalizer.
Hope this was helpful...