Originally Posted by finnhiggins
As for studios, generally I'd tend to agree with Bermuda. I use more muffling when I record, for the simple reason that it's very easy to add sustain to drums in a studio environment using compression (to boost the existing resonance) and reverb. It's much harder to remove sustain. So in the interest of having a bit more control I'd tend to favour muffling a bit beyond the sound I'm after, because you can usually dial it in and get it back. Not that relying on processing is the ideal, but it's a rare studio environment that IS the ideal - usually things are rushed and stressful, and you quite simply don't have TIME to spend ages trying different microphones in different positions to get a clean and clear representation of what's going on in the room. So you get the best you can, and then fake the rest.
I guess I'm in a unique recording situation in that the studio I do work in is very friendly to live sounding kits. For me, it's not a matter of sustain per se, but more one of tone quality. I know that the resonance has alot to do with tone quality, but if I muffle say the toms, I lose certain aspects of the sound that can't be added back electronically. I recorded a soundtrack for a company called MusicQ, which specializes in selling tracks of different styles of music to be used as background for film production, TV, etc. I was doing a country CD and we started out muffling the toms a tad. We ended up taking off all muffling (just some tape) and the toms sounded awesome with a much improved tone quality that we just couldn't get with electronic enhancement on the muffled version. I recorded all of that CD that way with the exception of some muffling on the snare for a slow ballad type tune. It worked in that situation, but as you said, I may not have liked that sound applied to a different style of music.