Which type of head do you prefer for hand drumming, and why?
The only hand drums I can think of that MIGHT sound better with synthetic heads are the pandeiro and the riq, and the best sounding riqs I’ve ever heard were skinned with fish skin.
Most doumbeks played by professionals these days are skinned with modern materials (like mylar). They’re so common that I think most of us have become accustomed to their sound, but that doesn’t mean they sound better than traditionally made doumbeks. Again, the best doumbeks I’ve ever heard were skinned with fish skin.
Synthetic heads have their place. They’re durable, reliable, easy to replace and generally quite affordable, but they don’t have the warmth and character of natural skin.