Liking is a subjective thing. Horses seem to take a brass bit better then stainless, and it helps promote saliva which is a good thing. I find that most horses prefer sweet iron over any other material.
As for pads, the best pad for Western, at least, is a 100% wool pad that will keep a horse cool by wicking away her sweat. I prefer the pads made by 5Star.
It's a good one (very mild). I have to say the rings depends on horse (as well as mouthpiece), but if your horse is fine with loose rings - just go with it. One of my horses prefers loose rings, other one - eggbutt, so you just never know.