Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
There is such a thing as a judicious amount of muffling. Something along the lines of EC2 , or even a small bit of tape to kill overring.
In this manner, volume isn't necessarily lost and there is more punch and perception of focus.
A lot of damping (hydraulics, massive amounts of pillows and tape) does kill everything about the drums.
Buddy Rich (talking to MD): "Taking the bottom head off is just stupid. It kills the drums tonality."
Listen to Mike Portnoys drums. Now listen to Joey Jordinsons. There is a big difference there in damping.