This gold-plated Sony Walkman could bring a little bling to the WH-1000XM4

the gold-plated sony walkman on a table
(Image credit: Sony)

A little bling never hurt anyone, right? At least, that's what Sony seems to think. having released a very flashy gold-plated Walkman portable music player that'll put a dent in your bank balance.

Set to be released in April, the Sony NW-WM1ZM2 is the successor to the NW-WM1Z Walkman that launched in 2016, and it could be the perfect companion to your Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones (if you've got the money to spare, that is). 

Global pricing is yet to be confirmed, but it'll cost "approximately" £3,350 / AU$4,999 (about $4,500) according to Sony. For comparison, our pick for the best portable music player of 2022, the Astell & Kern A&ultima SP2000T, costs $2,399 / £1,999 / AU$3,599, though there are lots of MP3 players on the market that cost less than $200 / £200 / AU$300.

the gold plated sony walkman mp3 player

(Image credit: Sony)

The chassis of this opulent-looking portable music player is made from high-grade gold-plated oxygen-free copper. According to Sony, this material is widely used in instrument manufacturing, and lends the new Walkman its "unique natural, acoustic sound", while its conductivity and strength provide an "unrivaled" audio performance. 

Sony also say the rigidity of this material should also enable a "clear, expansive sound, so you can experience each instrument as if it were performing live". 

That chassis surrounds a five-inch touchscreen. There's also a selection of music playback control buttons on the side of the NW-WM1ZM2, a USB-C port, and a microSD slot so you can boost its 256GB of built-in file memory. That should be more than enough to keep your ears occupied - and 40-hour battery life means you won't have to charge the Walkman too frequently. 

Hi-res audio support is pretty comprehensive, with 32bit 384kHz PCM bit-to-bit playback and Native DSD support up to 11.2MHz. If all those acronyms give you a headache, all you need to know is that your music should sound pretty much as the artist intended, with no loss of detail that can obscure the subtle harmonies, tones, and textures. 

That's if you're using a pair of wired headphones to listen to hi-res audio files - but if you prefer a pair of cable-free true wireless earbuds, Sony has you covered with its own LDAC Bluetooth codec, which lets you enjoy 'near hi-res quality' without the wires. Running Android 11, the Walkman comes with built-in Wi-Fi support for easy streaming.

Like Sony headphones, the Walkman makes use of the company's DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine), which upscales compressed audio files to bring them to a level that's closer to true high-resolution audio. While we weren't entirely convinced by this feature when we tested the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, it should still offer an improvement for lossy MP3 files. 

To further improve the audio performance, Sony has included a low-phase noise oscillator clock, which provides a timing signal to every part of the Walkman - this should avoid a phenomenon known as 'timing jitter', which can degrade digital audio signals.

Are there cheaper portable music players out there?

sony walkmans

The Sony NW-WM1AM2 (left) is a cheaper version of the gold-plated Walkman. (Image credit: Sony)

The Sony Walkman is an iconic product, having endured since 1979, and this latest iteration takes the portable music players to a new level of luxury - but if that price is a little rich for your blood, there is a cheaper model to consider. 

The Sony NW-WM1AM2 is kitted out in an aluminum alloy rather than gold-plated copper and features a less premium cable running from the Walkman's amplifier to its balanced headphone jack. Its built-in storage is also half that of its gold sibling at 128GB.

Again, global pricing is yet to be confirmed, but the NW-WM1AM2 will cost £1,300 / AU$1,899, which works out at around $1,790. 

If you're looking for something much, much cheaper than that, check out SanDisk's range of budget MP3 players. The Clip Sport Plus costs $39.99 / £41.99 (about AU$55) and comes with a modest 16GB of storage and no hi-res audio support - but it's still a neat way to take music on the go without relying on your smartphone.

Via What Hi-Fi?

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.