back to article Sony responds to inflation with $3,700 gold-plated 'Walkman'

What's old is new again with reboots of classic devices for gaming and music coming out all the time. But that kitsch value comes at a cost, even if the tech is from the current era. Audiophiles want digital music players that leave out cellular components in favor of sound-quality-maximizing gadgets – or at least that's what …

  1. theOtherJT

    It's cute and everything...

    ...but given that most people with real money are on the older side I still think they'd be better off making an actual gold plated walkman.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: It's cute and everything...

      Top end walkmans (eg: Aiwa HS-J08) were in the region of £900 back in the mid 80s and that won't change much as the cost was in the mechanicals, not the electronics

      Inflation adjusted, the pricing is pretty similar

  2. redpawn

    I wish

    I had a vacuum chamber and no conscience. I could anodize all kinds of cheap crap and make collectible reboots of old products. Might start by gold plating RPI-400s as Atari 2600s. They could also double as Apple I computers etc.

    1. snowpages

      Re: I wish

      https://kingdomluxuryplating.co.uk/

  3. doublelayer Silver badge

    The goals

    "What Sony is hoping to accomplish with a nearly $4,000 Android Wi-Fi-only phone is less clear."

    I know what it is. By adding so much unnecessary crap to this, they're hoping to eliminate any customer who has a clue from their set, thus identifying the set of gullible people with tons of cash. I don't know exactly what they'll do with that set later, but it never hurts to know those people. Other companies will make devices for audiophiles who are less enamored of nonfunctional cosmetic parts and only want the nonfunctional electronic parts.

  4. Marty McFly Silver badge

    Physical media...

    If the content is even remotely close to a 'watch/listen again' I will always buy the physical media(*). I have seen too much content magically 'disappear' from the on-line streamers. I simply don't trust them.

    Not a new issue. Look up Orwell's 1984 and Amazon: https://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/18/technology/companies/18amazon.html

    * Basically any content better than 'Netflix Originals'.

  5. sreynolds Silver badge

    Whats next?

    I don't think that anybody who buys this is interested in music. Whats the next product to get the gold treatment? A solid gold discman - literally a chunk of gold cast and polished into the shape of a discman - just to let everyone know that you are a super rich dick suffering from 80s nostalgia?

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Whats next?

      ... just to let everyone know that you are a super rich dick suffering from 80s nostalgia?

      No.

      This is for people (?) who desperately need to let others know that they are absolute assholes and have way too much money in their pockets.

      The things we see these days.

      We are doomed, the gods have evidently forsaken us.

      O.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Whats next?

      > just to let everyone know that you are a super rich dick suffering from 80s nostalgia?

      Close. Well, 80's nostalgia is hip, so there is clearly money to be made around it, even if this contraption doesn't look anywhere like a Sony Walkman™ to me (I had several). But then the hip kids of 2022 have probably never seen one, so that's not a problem.

      The thing is, the super rich don't cover themselves in gaudy gold, the only ones who do are clueless nouveau riche, rappers, and generally poor people who want to look rich and influential, but have no clue whatsoever about the codes of the rich and influential.

      So this is clearly targeted at the demographic which puts their iPhone in a fake-diamonds-studded case: The tasteless and uneducated show-offs with just enough money to cover themselves in some showy brand, thinking this makes them look "cool" and important.

      (See icon.)

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Whats next?

        Trump may be interested in having one - but would no doubt expect to be given one, rather than buy one with his own money

  6. DS999 Silver badge

    $3700

    And it can't play my old cassette tapes? I would have been impressed if they managed to cram that functionality into an otherwise modern music player. Not $3700 impressed, but impressed nonetheless.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: $3700

      I have a feeling somebody has built a cassette player with an MP3 player bolted on. This is exactly the kind of product certain small Chinese companies appear to really love making. I'm often surprised by the strange set of features some designers cobble together, but also I occasionally decide that it's actually useful.

      Having made this claim, it was my duty to try a few searches on AliExpress, and I think I have found it after all. Of course with the long and not always correctly translated product descriptions I can't be entirely sure, but it looks like someone has made such a frankenplayer and it can be yours for less than 1% of what this would cost, but probably without gold plating.

  7. Exact Circus
    Pint

    I want one

    I don't see any unsurmountable obstacle to putting a small audiophile gold plated turntable in this thing.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stand-alone music players for the win

    No, not this gold-plated excess but a bog standard player.

    I don’t want the following on my music player, ever:

    - Incoming calls

    - Complicated controls

    - Reminders

    - Adverts

    - Unexpected updates

    - More adverts

    My old iPod (SD) fits the bill perfectly.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Stand-alone music players for the win

      It all went so well, and then you had to say "no adverts"... Come on, this is the 21st century, you can't expect your music not to be interrupted every 10 minutes for a short (3-4 minutes) ad break. You have to move with the times.

      In the 20th century you were born to be wild, in the 21st you are born to be monetized.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    40th Anniversary Edition

    Last time I was in Tokyo they had just launched the 40th Anniversary Walkman.

    Was tempted, until I realised it was just a run-of-the-mill digital walkman with a faux cover to make it appear like a classic cassette Walkman.

  10. werdsmith Silver badge

    Vertu are still in business too. There is a market of customers who have so much wealth that the difference between 50 and 5000 is negligible.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Meh

      They went bust. Seems someone else bought the trademark.

      I can’t understand who the target market is though. I get that some people would want to pay $xx,000 for bling, but surely they would it to be capable of taking photos of their other bling items and uploading them to Instagram?

  11. msknight

    I'll stick with my Astell and Kern.

    ... it not only has a headphone jack, but a balanced headphone jack as well.

    1. BGatez

      Re: I'll stick with my Astell and Kern.

      As if AK wasn't stupid $$$ :)

  12. lglethal Silver badge
    Trollface

    What Sony is hoping to accomplish with a nearly $4,000 Android Wi-Fi-only phone is less clear.

    Oh I'd say its perfectly clear. To separate fools from their money.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      But these fools seem to have plenty more money to be separated from. They are unlikely to end up having to worry about the price of electricity, gas or petrol. Oh the silly fools.

  13. Howard Sway Silver badge

    a bunch of features the Japanese tech maker claims improve the sound quality

    Bad tech claim alert : the case could be made from cardboard, and it would make no difference whatsoever to the sound quality, seeing as it's the D/A converter and other chip-based functions in a digital audio device that determine this, along with the headphones used.

    In honour of the sort of people they are trying to sell this to, they should have called it "The Beckham".

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: a bunch of features the Japanese tech maker claims improve the sound quality

      I agree that in this case the case material probably doesn't contribute anything to the audio quality.

      But presumably there is an amp/preamp stage where the audio, having been converted into the signal for the headphones, is boosted. In which case, you might possibly make a case for enclosure material screening and preventing RF and other sources creating noise in the signal path. Of course you could use internal screening though.

      1. Sixtiesplastictrektableware Bronze badge

        FlashBackup

        In the year 2000, I was doing product support for Sony 'murica up in canadaland. I got in trouble for helping customers too much.

        Imagine my (now emotionless lack of) surprise to find a note buried in their manuals to the tune of 'we are fully aware our CD non-skip functionality is completely useless'.

        I wouldn't hold my breath hoping they give a turkey about quality over quantity of money.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: FlashBackup

          Non-skip technology for CDs is surely just a buffer and a skip detector that allows it to go back and start reading the CD again from the point of the skip before the buffer drains.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't imagine why Apple would suggest you buy a £1500 iPhone instead of a £200 iPod.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Devil

      In the immortal words of Bill Hicks (when talking about Tobacco companies)

      "I'm sure there motives are pure..."

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      > why Apple would suggest you buy a £1500 iPhone instead of a £200 iPod

      Indeed, for your own good obviously. They know what's good for you, and giving them your hard-earned cash is what's best, as their shareholders' meeting has unequivocally determined.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      iPod Touch was only a cut-down, dated-spec iPhone anyway...

      I know they recently killed off the iPod brand with the discontinuation of the Touch (i.e. the last remaining model).

      But that had more in common with the iPhone, of which it was really just a cut-down model. In truth, the iPod has already been dead in all but name for several years (i.e. since they discontinued the remaining non-Touch models).

      Mind you, the Touch was still cheaper than the cheapest iPhone. Only thing was the spec was pretty dated and the base model only came with 32 GB. You don't have to spend £1500 to get an iPhone, but the cheapest SE is still over £400.

    4. katrinab Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      So that you can run a calculator app. iPads can’t do that for some reason.

      1. WolfFan Silver badge

        Hmm. Mine can. It has the built in Calculator app from Apple, and it has the HP-15C emulator that I installed and usually use, because I still have my original HP-15C from the early 1980s. Still works, too. Unlike certain newer HP products. RPN forever!

  15. nintendoeats Silver badge

    For some reason Sony's audio division is much less down to earth than their other departments. They are always releasing products at outrageous prices, making extremely dubious claims about their audio quality. I remember a while back I wanted their car stereo for my Miata, because it was the only one I could find that didn't look like a transformer combined with a storm trooper. I think they wanted 2 grand or something insane? And even if it somehow had performance exceeding audible transparency...it was going to be in a car...

    Side note, the gold-plating is dumb. Either you carry it in a case and can't see it, or you don't use a case and the gold plating wears off. Good job guys.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Obvious

      "the gold plating wears off"

      Just throw it away and get another one.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Audiophiles: The second worst type of phile.

    1. nintendoeats Silver badge

      Depends on which kind. There are science-based audiophiles, and magic-based audiophiles.

      I suspect I do not want to know what you think the worst is.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Childcatcher

        I think I can probably guess which type of phile was rated the worst, and I agree that they are waaaaaaaaaay worse than audiophiles.

    2. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The second worst type of phile.

      Yes indeed. Damn those hydrophiles. Damn them to hell.

    3. Zarno

      Hey, the gramophiles aren't too bad!

      I for one am continually surprised with how good vinyl can reproduce dynamic range when mastered correctly.

      It won't ever beat high bitrate high frequency lossless codecs for reproduction, but it's impressive for the time.

      And sometimes there's a therapeutic value to literally shuffling through the stack of records, setting down, and vegetating to some Foreigner.

      1. Alistair
        Windows

        I'm more likely to vegetate to Floyd, Tull, or KC. But whatever works for you.

        1. Zarno

          It's the sax solo in Urgent...

  17. BGatez

    sure this one is stupid $$$ but..

    I have and do use a separate device for music on the go.

    First, I'm not running down my phone battery, for the now and time it must be replaced due to a distinctly finite lifespan.

    Second, even if wifi were available everywhere I like MY music without having to search and find it's not on this subscription, I need another. Or it's not popular enough to be anywhere, or an audio book I own, etc.

    Third if I have lossless I want to hear it all, not what is broadcast or current wifi speed allows.

    Fourth, I can use whatever headphones I please without adapters or bluetooth, (ef you Apple and now Samsung).

  18. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Oxygen free

    Wonder what the market would be for an oxygen free listening chamber

    1. RobThBay

      Re: Oxygen free

      Probably only limited by the number of twits with money.

      Hmm... oxygen free.... you could claim the music sounds purer, because the soundwaves aren't getting disbursed by those pesky oxygen atoms. LOL

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Oxygen free

      > Wonder what the market would be for an oxygen free listening chamber

      As long as it's gold plated...

  19. bjr

    Doesn't Sony have any lawyer's

    What Sony has built is technically known as a litigation generator. Claiming that the case material has any effect on the sound quality of a digital music player is such an obvious fraud that they should attract plaintiff attorneys like bugs to a porch light.

  20. Alan Brown Silver badge

    LIes , damned lies and statistics

    "Vinyl, which accounted for more than half of music purchases, only accounts for 4.7 percent when including streaming."

    Or in other words, physical sales are miniscule (but they'd been in free fall since the 1970s anyway), essentially filling a "novelty" or "nostalgia" category - which is exactly what the Ikea "turntable" is

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