I think the Audio Asylum does what you are talking about. You used to have a sub forum there.
Other than the search function, I think it works quite well. I like that it shows me, on the main forum page, what has new posts. Even though the Asylum lets you post under the actual post you are replying to, and may be able to be set up differently, has flexibility, I am not aware of. I prefer how all the posts are shown in a line here, rather than just the title of the replies.
Elk, if there is not one already written, a tutorial on how you search might solve those complaints. Have a link, or if you can say it briefly, put it in, so if I hit search, there it is. Because I seldom, maybe never here, start topics, I don’t use search very often. The thing with wanting people to search before asking a question in a new topic thread, is that if the topic is old, some won’t resurrect it. So, with some topics, you have to accept that they will come up more than once. It used to be storage that made forums want to have no duplicate topics.
I think this forum could be tweaked, but, I for one, do not want it replaced, with any other forum package. Maybe set up a survey, if that is possible to find out what members prefer. But do it in a way that allows you to gather info to specific questions, rather than in a thread like this, where we will all be saying something different, so no consensus.
One thing I found that was odd, I was looking through the FAQ on the site, and found someone had posted a question after the FAQ. I looked at the date,and it was only two days old at the time. I answered the question the best I could, and suggested using the forum. Very likely a newbie to forums. I know, but they still exist. I have a friend that refused to use the internet until just a few years ago. I doubt he has ever joined, or maybe even read a forum.