Audiophiles desire digital music players that don’t have cellular components and instead focus on sound quality – or at least that’s what Sony appears to be counting on with the launch of a $3,700 Walkman this week. Before you ask, no, it can’t play tapes. Instead, it’s an Android 11 media player that can stream and play downloaded music via applications, just as your smartphone can. But we won’t discuss that because of the gold plating.
Sony’s newest gold-plated Walkman boasts a number of features that the Japanese electronics giant says increase sound quality, including a chassis constructed of oxygen-free copper that resides beneath the gold coating. This is a step up from the $3,200 model that was announced in March of this year, and it’s been around for years in some form. A “cheap” version of the current gadget, which is still priced at $1,400, removes some of the more exotic sound-quality-enhancing circuitry.
The release of these devices, which have capabilities that are expected to spark a controversy about how much quality can be extracted from audio files, comes at a bad moment for digital music players. The demise of the iPod series, as well as Apple’s message encouraging customers to move to an iPhone, is just another evidence of a shift in listening habits that avoids media ownership entirely.