Help me understand this, because I'm a little skeptical. I'm not trying to be difficult, honestly. My question is to you drummers that claim that the shell itself makes a noticeable difference. Let's say that you are there in person with the drums and not listening through any speakers of any kind. Can you tell which wood, or other material, is being played just by listening to a drum? If you were part of a blind test of various shells, could you discern which wood was which? And what about if you were hearing those same drums mixed in with other musical instruments? Could you still tell which shell was which?
While it would be extraordinarily difficult to pinpoint shell composition in isolation (e.g., hearing an unknown kit live or in a recording and declaring that it's maple with perfect confidence), differences can, in my experience, be detected side by side. The extent to which heads, tunings, hardware, the way the drum is struck, and other variables shape the experience remains debatable. The better question might be, "Is the debate really of value?" Manufacturers will continue to build drums with various woods, just as we'll continue to buy drums on that basis. My convention is to purchase kits I like and forget about related hype. My current kit is Birch/African Mahogany. If I'm told it will sound exactly like a maple kit (yet I don't think it does), who cares? I like the drums. Other opinions have no bearing on that condition.