Smaller bass drums have surprised me over the years. Probably like many here, my first real drum set (a used Ludwig Super Classic) was anchored with a 22" bass drum - essentially the default standard size for drum sets since the 60s. Every time I saw a jazz kit with a 20 or an 18 bass drum, they looked like toys to me (at the time I also thought an 8x12 tom didn't have enough balls to it). This, of course, was a time when your only options for drum heads were coated Ambassadors or coated Ambassadors. In order to get a big, fat sound you needed a big, fat drum, be it bass drum, tom-tom or snare.
My first surprise with the 20" bass drum was on an old beater kit I bought. It sounded tremendous. I liked it s much I later bought another kit with a 20; they both gave me all the bottom I could want (using Super Kick 1 batters). I got a Tama Metro Jam (14x16" bass drum) a while ago, and with a Remo PS4 on the batter and mic'ed up (wtih the low end boosted), I've actually been using it very successfully with a classic rock band. The fact that it's birch instead of a soft wood probably plays a big part in its ability to punch far above its weight.
I still have a kit with a 22, but since I don't really feel the need for it anymore, I'm probably going to sell it.
Edited by cribbon, 12 August 2018 - 05:53 PM.