Yes, I think I know what you're saying, Paul. It is more fun when drums are sounding their best. It's just the sound and even how the stick response feels when they sound the best. It's kind of magical/satisfying.
I play at a Senior Activity Center every Monday and Thursday for a very small group of people. The money stinks and I wonder why they have this major drive to keep the dance club going but then I stop and think...this is the only time they have for some of these seniors to get out of their rocking chairs and meet friends while having some good clean fun. They let us know every night how much they appreciate us for being there for them with hand shakes and hugs and some times even a kiss on the cheek ...then that's when I stop to think how much fun/gratification I get for being there for them.