The interesting thing that I get from the technical theory stuff is an awareness of how subjective -- and flawed -- our individual perceptions can be. It's a fact of human nature.Grumps said:. . . when that perspective invades the threads calling for more subjective experiences, what is really trying to be proven? Now the science involved here is fascinating, no doubt, but as far as practical applications go, how are we using this information? Is it simply a mental exercise for those wishing to expand and/or flaunt their knowledge base, or are we learning something of use... and if so, what is it?
If someone feels like their lacquered horn sounds better than their silver-plate horn, or like their silver-plate horn sounds better than their lacquered horn, that's great. But if they think that their subjective experience somehow equates to "knowledge" that the silver-plate and lacquer coatings cause audible differences between saxes, I'm pretty sure that's contradicted by the few actual scientific experiments that have been done.
What do we get from the scientific theories? That the human mind is intensely impressionable and fallible. That we should be profoundly aware that our psychological makeup tends to make us believe certain things that have no objective basis. That we should be careful before saying we know for certain something is true. That we should be skeptical. That we should avoid asserting subjective experiences as objectively true. I think there's a lot of value in these realizations. It's a question of whether you believe in the value of a dedicated search for truth or whether you're comfortable living in your own little subjective reality.
It's also interesting to ask: What do the scientific theories take away from us? I'm not sure they take away anything, because while it's easy to acknowledge that our subjective experience may not fit with objective truth, I'm pretty sure we're not going to stop having those subjective experiences and preferences just because intellectually our reason tells us there's no objective basis to believe them as true. I suppose for some people it could take away their motivation to play if they are forced to rationally acknowledge that their silver-plate horn is not actually any better than someone else's lacquer horn, despite their subjective experience of it as better. That would be a bad thing. Also a silly thing, because even if the differences did actually exist, they're pretty minor in the big scheme of things. Even mediocre saxes sound great.