Some instruments lend themselves to the study of acoustics.
My interest in acoustics started long before I was aware of it. I played drums and percussion starting in 5th grade band, and continued through (too) many years of drumming in rock bands.
Why acoustics? A lot of room testing is done using impulse signals, and a drum is a great impulse generator (ask my parents!). Every time I set up my drum kit in a different environment — practice garage, VFW Hall, pontoon boat (yeah, we played on a giant paddlewheel pontoon boat for a summer) — I wondered why my drums sounded different. Same drums, way different sound.
Naturally, having no other interests, like fuzz pedals and bass amps, I started thinking about why the difference in sound — had to be the room, I thought. Which was correct, which made me even more aware of how a room affects the quality of music recording, which was my next chosen profession (leaving out an un-chosen gig or two). In recording studios, the room WAS the sound.
And it wasn’t just drum sound variances — have you ever recorded a bassoon? Those dang things (lovely instruments, really) have at least three different “sound exits”, and you’d better set up at least three microphones to capture it… unless you have a nice acoustic space and can simply use one mic at a distance, where the basson sound melds into one consistent tone.
So when you wonder why anyone would choose the career path of geeking-out on acoustics, whether for recording studios, home theaters, or soundproofing airplane hangars, think for a moment — maybe the person you’re wondering about played drums or bassoon in high school band. There are probably worse ways to start a career.