Re: More experience as a drummer, less muffling of the kit..what does that tell us?
Well this may just be a question of personal preference because you said most Pro's don'tuse em, not all. So I think if you like the sound without muffles or think it's somehow amateurish to use them then thats your preference but I don't think it's a standard. I am a beginner and use rings but I challenge anyone here to use a Sonor 3003 set without em..They sound horrible without those little white rings. : )
And yes I have after market heads on them...well the batter sides anyway.