Re: To Port or not to Port...
Mary, it's a choice thing. There's no best way. Using a non ported head affords you far greater playing choices. There's a big difference in sound between burying the beater & not, & that allows you to select totally different feels. I use 20" bass drums extensively, & porting is something I do for some applications, for some not. In a rock setting, if I need to mic the bass drum, I'll sometimes mic both heads. That gives me a lot of sound choices through a PA by balancing the slap of the batter head with the sustain of the front head.
Play what feels & sounds best to you. Mic'ing solutions can always be found to suit your taste, both live & recording.
As for general home playing, you will always get a more satisfactory sound & feel from a lightly ported head if you bury the beater 100% of the time, but learning to work with the choices that a full reso head offers, is a very worthwhile use of your practice time.