I avoid emperors on 14's , but the twin ply heads on a 13 will give it a bit more ' potatoes ' , without sacrificing projection and snappiness .13" snares are wonderful for the music I like to play.
- They'll exhibit more snap (usually) at almost any tension.
- Can be a bit less fatiguing to play for long periods.
- Just as much or even more volume as most 5.5x14 snaredrums
- Slightly less sweep area but still good for brush playing
- They can achieve a good rimshot or crosstick sound too, once you become accustomed to the smaller diameter
- Noticeably sharper attack & strong projection
- Lighter to carry
- Easier to position
- Heads are cheaper (!)
- Great overall feel, a good 13" snare will practically play itself
You can get plenty of volume out of a 13" at any depth. I think the 13x7 is popular for a certain sound. I had a 13 x 3.5 Steel Pearl Piccolo, and I'm not saying you should play one, but it was crazy loud, and very immediate. I'm looking for a 13 x 5 myself, just because that Pearl was my first snare and I got used to the small size. The only problem was the flatulence you'd hear if you tuned it too low.I love the rebound of a 13, and I like having a little more knee room. The hangup for me is that most of the 13's I've tried have been 7" deep, and I find that a deeper shell means a less integrated sound from the wires, and a little delay between the attack of the batter and the slap of the wires. Noticeable in the low-volume jazz I play. So even though the 13x7 format is popular, I guess to get the same volume as a 14x5.5, I prefer ones that are 6" deep or less.