One of the fun things about my job is that I get to experience products I'll never be able to afford. I've stood in soundproofed rooms listening to audiophile systems whose collected components cost more than my flat. I've tested headphones I'd be willing to sell one of my kidneys to cling on to. And I've played the best music ever made through some of the best portable music players ever made.
But for all their many joys, the outsides of high-end audio kit often leave me cold. Portable players in particular tend to be available in any colour you want as long as it's black, or if they're feeling particularly fancy, dark grey.
I want my music players to be as fun as the instruments used to make them, and if you could see the guitars near me right now in their shades of burnished copper, Candy Apple Red and some particularly fun 50s metallics, you'd understand exactly what I mean – and why I'm so delighted by the new Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000 Copper.
The A&ultima SP3000 is a seriously high-end audio player with a suggested retail price of £3,799 / $3,699 / AUS$5,499. And the A&Ultima SP3000 Copper is the same award-winning device at the same price, but instead of the premium, watch-grade steel of the original it's hand-finished in pure copper.
If you've ever had a green wrist from a copper bracelet you'll be well aware that copper usually has a big downside: it oxidises, which is what turns it green. A&K don't want that to happen, so they've used very specific pieces of 99.8% pure copper and then applied a multi-layer coating to protect it without dulling the shine.
I think it's absolutely beautiful, but if you spend any time around serious audio people you'll know that they don't do things just because they're pretty. The choice of copper here is deliberate, because copper is very good at conducting electricity and at shielding, so it helps deliver an exceptional audio performance.
But while I doubt my rock-ravaged ears could tell the difference, my eyes certainly can. It's one of the most gorgeous bits of audio kit I've seen in ages.