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Why is there a "null" device? Why is there no sound?

I am trying to get the hifiberry working on a raspi 2 running arch linux. I don't get sound output, actually I had it working once then I touched the raspi and then for some reason it stopped.
aplay -L shows strange things:
[jr@raspberrypi ~]$ sudo aplay -L
null
Discard all samples (playback) or generate zero samples (capture)
sysdefault:CARD=sndrpihifiberry
snd_rpi_hifiberry_dacplus,
Default Audio Device
[jr@raspberrypi ~]$

why is the null device there?

Also, there seems to be no PCM:
[jr@raspberrypi ~]$ sudo amixer sset PCM 90%
amixer: Unable to find simple control 'PCM',0

I have fired up alsamixer to see whether sound might be muted, but it doesn't seem so. I have double checked the RCA cable, it works on other devices. I have downloaded and tried check-system.dac, and there were no error messages. I begin to think that I might have bought a faulty device, or am I overlooking something?

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