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The MP3 player, which became popular during the first decade of the 2000s, was certainly an interesting development in technology. It was small, could contain an impressive quantity of music, and mostly inexpensive - apart from the notorious iPod for which people were prepared to pay a significant premium for a logo and the ability to download music that they couldn't then play on anything else.
But for all its popularity at the time, the MP3 player was somehow lacking in 'substance' somehow, and the sound quality was rather less than exciting. The bother of having to recharge your MP3 player after just a few hours use was simply tedious.
Fortunately the next step in technology is just around the corner and ready to step into the void filled by the MP3 player's demise.
A prime example of this amazing MP3 player-killing technology is this, the HMV Model 101 'gramophone', as it is called.
It's difficult to know where to start. This player has so many advantages over the MP3 player, I'll have to list them in random order...
Firstly the substance - rather than a teensy, fiddly micro-player, the HMV 101 portable gramophone has real substance. Made from genuine wood, covered with a leather-like fabric, this model weighs a healthy 18 pounds (8 kg) complete with a selection of media (there is internal storage for up to ten songs or around 40 minutes). With a side-mounted carrying handle, this is a model to sport proudly on your travels throughout the day, and to keep handy by your workstation or evening armchair.
The playback medium is circular and generally 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) in diameter. Some newcomers to this technology have confused the discs with old-fashioned vinyl. Yes, the discs are round, flat and black, but they are made of rigid shellac, which is not only firmer than vinyl, it is also organic, made from the shells of crushed beetles!
And the killer feature of the shellac medium - rather than the slow speed of vinyl at 33 or 45 rpm, shellac rotates at the massive speed of 78 rpm resulting in an immensely more exciting sound!
Audio is captured from the shellac disc by a steel needle (the term 'needle' is preferred to 'stylus' in this context).
For maximum clarity of sound, each needle is used for one or two sides only. However, if you prefer an even more exciting and characterful sound, you can use the same needle many times. This subtly 'shapes' the groove and blends additional high frequencies into the sound. Once you have experienced the sound of a shellac disc that has been lovingly modified in this way, you can never go back to the stark clarity of digital media again.
And there's more...
Unlike every playback system of recent years, the HMV Model 101 gramophone, amazingly, requires no electricity, neither mains nor battery!
The Model 101 creates sound entirely from the grooves of the shellac disc. The needle vibrates the diaphragm of a 'sound box' and the resultant energy travels down the hollow pickup arm to an amplifying horn built into the case of the unit.
One feature of this, which might initially seem unusual, is that there is no volume control. However, if you are dissatisfied by the volume in some way, you can change the needle for a soft, medium or loud type. To my mind, the sound is rather on the loud side and an extra-soft needle may be preferred for indoor use. It is also possible to use a natural thorn needle for late-night listening.
Should you not have any thorn needles to hand, you can always stuff a sock into the horn.
One last feature is a real bonus... due to the HMV Model 101's exceptional ability to operate completely without electricity, there is a winding handle that provides useful fat-burning aerobic exercise for the user.
Not only do you get to enjoy excellent sound, but you improve your health too!
In conclusion, although MP3 players were successful in their day, this is clearly a superior technology. Early adoption is recommended.
HMV 101 closed
Internal media storage
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Hidden needle compartment