Originally Posted by keep it simple
It's both, & while we're at it, referring to moongel & other dampeners, they suppress head sustain & overtones, not shell resonance. What's attached to the shell directly affects shell resonance, & that's one primary mechanism for shaping the fundamental, & the length of note (the tone you hear through the mix), not head sustain (the bit that gets lost in the mix). All that said, if you prefer a non resonant shell (a totally valid approach), then what you attach to the shell makes little difference.
When a mounted drum is struck a vibrational wave is sent through it... and everything between that drum and the floor, if that 'everything' isn't de coupled from the floor the wave returns to the drum and back to floor again repeatedly until the wave has dissipated.
This is what we experience with direct mounted drums, one of the fx being less head sustain due to vibrational canceling. Bo Eder
questioned eliminating the floor, and the floor in some cases can be more forgiving (floating stage/riser vs concrete slab) acting as an absorber affecting tone, so direct mounted toms can sound different in certain grounding situations.
A drum shell with less hardware attached isn't going to be allowed its full sonic potential unless its de coupled from the floor, just the same as a drum with more hardware attached. So yeah its understandable a drum shell with minimal attachments will have a different tone than the same shell with more hardware attached, but the deciding factor of that tone is more so determined by how the shells are coupled to the floor and we see this demonstrated.
Since most drums do have hardware attached, a small tom mount isn't going to make a great noticeable difference as Gary Gauger implied in his RIMS demonstration 30 years ago.