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Sony's $3,000 Gold Walkman Will Blow Away Your Ears

BERLIN — On the pyramid of basic human needs, you'll find things like food, shelter, maybe even a sense of purpose. Something you are unlikely to find? A gold-plated Walkman. And yet for audiophiles, adding the NW-WM1Z to that list wouldn't be a bad idea.

The golden Walkman is part of Sony's Signature Series that also includes an equal high-end set of stereo headphones and a headphone amp. The cost of rocking out like Goldfinger? A cool €3,300 — and that just covers the cost of the Walkman.

There's more to the NW-WM1Z Walkman than just gold, though that's apparently there to eliminate magnetic interference and not just add bling. It boasts DSD Native playback and an S-Master HX digital amplifier.

As for the MDR-Z1R headphones — which cost around €2,000 on their own and look like a pair of fencer masks clamped on to your ears — they feature an aluminum coated LCP edge diaphragm with a magnesium dome and resonance-free housing. The result of all that high-end audio goodness, Sony says, is to make it sound like there's a live concert going on in your ears.

Does it deliver? Well, yes — I would say that the €5,000-plus set of audio equipment strapped to my noggin produced some sweet sounding tunes. I would also say that as pure as the audio sounded, I'm not running out and calling my banker to arrange a Walkman loan.

Don't fret if you can't swing the cost of the NW-WM1Z Walkman. Sony's making another version — the NW-WM1A — that lacks the gold plating, alas, but costs about the same as the $1,200 high-res audio Walkman Sony introduced last year. We all have to cut costs somewhere.