Re: Silent practice - mesh heads or sounds offs?
I recommended people getting into mesh heads if they have another kit to use them on. Otherwise, you're spending alot of time changing heads if all of a sudden you have a gig at the last minute. But I like the mesh heads. They are pretty silent, probably a bit more bouncy than regular heads, but they do feel better than the sound off pads. They do not damage drums, I don't see how that would happen. A stick hitting the rim accidentally would be alot louder than playing on mesh heads.
I had a Sonor safari kit that I put mesh heads on, and I continued the use of the sound off pads on the cymbals and hi-hats. That was a great practice set. If I wanted it even quieter, I could've dropped a towel in each drum to keep the bottom head from resonating, but I didn't need to do that. I still recommend people getting a Sonor Safari and a set of mesh heads. It's still cheaper than getting a full Pearl Rhythm Traveler kit!