Sorry, I was a little confused on some of your original points.
Well, again, all that profiles are are preconfigured settings for EAC. Simply deleting the profile itself doesn't change anything as far as EAC is concerned. The settings are persistent from one session to the next until you change them (or another profile is loaded). If you get to a point where your instance of EAC is "hosed" then simply delete it and all of it's child files and unpack a fresh copy of it from the original distro files. If you do that then you might as well save the fresh settings as a new profile named " default" or the like to give you something to fall back on. Aaanyways..
One setting that might have contributed to a slow down is Drive Options > Offset/Speed > "Allow speed reduction during extraction"
being turned on. This causes EAC to slow down when it encounters any dust/defects in the media. You can still rip securely with it deselected, but I think
it might lessen the chances of error correction being able to do its job successfully. For pristine CDs I always leave this option off for faster rips, while turning it on for problematic CDs.
Another option that the profile sets that might have been different from what you had set up on your other setup that could slow things down is EAC Options > Extraction > "Error recover quality" being set to high
(as opposed to something lower). Having this set to High increases the error correction quality. I suspect it increases the number of passes on difficult sectors at the very least, but I do know having it set to high slows things down significantly. I always run with it set to high and I've seen advice saying that this is optimal, if not for speed, but rather for successful rips. YMMV.
Some people have reported that having EAC spin up the drive prior to extracting increases their rip speeds. It takes a bit more time for the initial rip to begin and as far as I can tell it doesn't really work. Might give that ago and see if it helps with your particular drive. It's found here: Drive Options > Drive > "Spin up drive before extraction"
Regarding what you're reporting about EAC working in conjunction with LAME.. wow, I don't know what to think about that.
I've never seen EAC rip all the waves, wait until all of them were done and THEN pass them all to the encoder. I've only ever seen EAC rip and encode concurrently (more or less). This is with or without profiles of any kind coming into play. Having another looksee at all of the options in EAC for everything there is I can't even find an option that might allow for this. I might be missing it though. I wonder if this is something that's specific to 3.96.1 rather than being an EAC issue. I've never tried it out. Hrmm..
Well, let us know if you sort things out. As long as you're for sure ripping secure, that's all that matters in the end.
~slicky (he who writes too much when there's bourbon involved)