A piece here:
Kaffeine: Installed kaffeine-xine. Set it to use the xine engine instead of Gstreamer. Found playback was jumpy. Went to the configure engine options and played with them until I found a mix that works on my computer. Plays perfectly now.
Amarok: Installed amarok-xine. Use the xine engine. Everything plays nicely.
KsCD: It turns out KsCD tries to use a CDROM's built in ability to function as a regular CD player to send audio information directly to the audio card, which saves CPU. In my case, there is no cable running from the player to the card, so obviously this does not work. Under KsCD there is an option under extras to use direct digital, which then causes KsCD to send the audio information over the CPU, and it works now.
Totem: Still doesn't work right but i get more functionality out of Kaffeine anyway (playlists and such) so i don't care.
Desktop freezing:I think the desktop was locking up when i put stuff in the drive because it was trying to open the media with multiple programs at once. I am not sure that was the problem, but at any rate it went away by going to konqueror settings:/ then components then file associations and associating all video (including DVD and VCD) to play with Kaffeine and all audio (including CD) to play with amaroK."http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=104669
Your CD's have not got some form of DRM on them have they?
Ps I use Kaffiene to play CD's or Xmms with CD plugin
Also have you tried disabling CDDB lookup in Kscd