I've owned Pearl Masters, Gretsch USA, and DW kits over the years. I'm getting too old to lug big drums around so after reading numerous reviews of the Catalina Club Jazz I decided to order the gloss natural kit from Sweetwater. Granted, this is not a $2,000+ kit, but I have to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised at the finish and appeal of the kit when I opened the boxes and inspected it. The finish is smooth with no flaws. Although the bass drum claws are not padded it is not an issue if you take your time and are careful in the assembly. Tom hardware is padded providing a cushion between it and the shell itself as on much higher priced kits. Drum heads are a matter of personal choice so I changed out the factory heads on the Toms with Evans resonant, and hydraulics on the batter side. Put an Evans hazy 300 on the snare along with Evans HDdry on batter side. Left the factory heads on the kick drum. Assembly over all is easy and the Gretsch arm and ball tom mount is great for adjusting the 12 inch tom to whatever position you like. I didn't play the drums until I had switched the heads with those described above so I can't comment on sound with factory heads. However, I can honestly say that once I tuned up with the replacement heads these drums will bring a smile to your face. The snare has plenty of crack (I like mine tuned up high), and the toms sing out with the Evans Hydraulics with a very controlled overtone. I don't use any O rings, never have on my drums. I tune my kick probably higher than most drummers because I like a little "boom" in mine, not the dead studio sound that some drummers try to achieve. This also keeps the kick from walking on your bass player's notes too. In a small to medium venue this kit will hold its own. You might need to mic the kick in a larger venue, but that would be easily accomplished.
I'm very happy with this kit. I don't know that I would ever go back to a big kit lugging heavy drums around when you can put this entire kit in the backseat of your car and not break your back. "Bigger isn't necessarily better" and the Catalina Club Jazz kit can prove it.