Unlike other woodwinds, in the flute world, most western flutes are typically made of metal. There’s silver plated nickel, there’s solid silver, there’s gold and there’s even platinum. Not surprisingly, there’s a price range largely inline with whatever metal a flute happened to be made out of. From relatively inexpensive student flutes to pricey professional models. But here’s the rub, the material used has almost nothing to do with the sound. It’s how the flute is designed, the construction of the headjoint, the placement of the tone holes, that makes for how well or not a flute plays.
A $50 old used Artley flute doesn’t sound like a trumpet, or violin, or clarinet. It sounds like a flute. So then the question becomes “How much more flute does a $15,000 pro flute have over that Artley?” I’d argue, not much. While it may be more inviting to play on a nicer instrument, the facts are that they’re both just flutes. Asserting that one is somehow better than the other can be a fools quest, especially if there’s no evidence to support it.