I think you summed up the DW line relationship nicely. I was considering a Collectors set, but just pulled the trigger on a performance set in Black Mirra Lacquer. Theyll do everything I’ll need them to and for much less than a similarly finished collectors set. I’ll be picking them up in a few weeks...waiting for an add on tom to be made.I have played DW Collectors, Performance, and currently a Design Series 7pc at my church and they all were top quality and sounded pretty similar (all were all maple). I don’t feel like anyone who buys Performance or Design “couldn’t afford” the Collectors but rather they may not have felt the need to spend the extra money based on sound and not the additional finishes or clout of having a Collectors kit. If I were looking for DW and a used Collectors was the same price as the others then yeah I’d probably get the Collectors but no reason to look down on the others.
Same goes for other brands as well. Some like the sound of Session drums over Masters or just as much so they but the Session. Some like Renown just as much as USA Custom. Some like Starclassic as much as Star. So on and so forth.
I must admit though that I do still laugh at drummers who put DW heads on PDP kits. To me that is like putting Lexus emblems in a Toyota, Audi or Porsche emblems on a Volkswagen, Infiniti emblems on a Nissan. Toyota,Volkswagen and Nissan are great in their own right but aren’t Lexus, Audi or Infiniti.