Is there any difference, sound wise, of having wood hoops as opposed to steel hoops in your drums? Does the wood affect the sound, or tone of the drum?
A short summary:
- flanged hoops: cheap and popular. Their low mass produce rich overtones which may lead to a headache when it comes to tuning.
- die-cast hoops: really solid and easier to tune. Some say they produce a "focused" sound, maybe because they kill most overtones.
- wood hoops: produce a warmer sound on the drum. Probably in the middle of flanged and die-cast.
The hoops DO affect the sound of your drum along with the drumhead and its construction. I understand they are not always made of steel. You can find aluminum and brass as well. I would suggest to try and see which one fits you best.
Some physics: The sound is a vibration of air masses in the audible spectrum. When you hit a drum, the whole thing vibrates and thus, creates sound. The vibration is induced mainly by the drumhead but the mass of the drum contributes to it. Die-cast hoops dampens this vibration due to their high density. Wood and flanged hoops allow some vibrations through themselves, then contribute differently to the sound.