Julie's Tacky Treasures

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Hokie Pokie Sound Machine

Hokie Pokie Sound Machine
Hokie Pokie Sound Machine
purchased on eBay in February 2012. This was my entry in the Tacky Treasures Road Show 2012, which to my surprise, didn’t win anything.

This is the worst-designed phonograph record player I have ever seen, and yet as soon as I found out about it, I knew I had to have one.  It is so ridiculous, it makes me laugh just thinking of it.  A conventional record player has a turntable on which the record sits, and the stylus or needle is drawn across it.  The Hokie Pokie Sound Machine has the record sitting on a flat surface, and the stylus is on the bottom of a little plastic truck that drives over the grooves!

I found out about the Hokie Pokie Sound Machine from Who would buy this? : the Archie McPhee story by Mark Pahlow, an essential reference work in my growing library of tackological research.  It was published by the Accoutrements Publishing Company in 2008.

There is so much wrong with the way this concept was executed.

1.  There is a tiny speaker in the truck that has extremely poor sound quality.  You can barely recognize the songs on the record that came with the Hokie Pokie Sound Machine.  Also, there’s a warble-like quality to the sound, as if the Hokie Pokie Sound Machine is slowing down and speeding up slightly as it plays, but it’s not.  It might be caused by the stylus not being positioned exactly right, something that is difficult to accomplish, due to the generally flawed design.

2.  The truck makes a high, whiny noise as it goes around.  This additional problem with the sound, layered on top of the crappy audio quality, makes even a good song unpleasant to listen to.  The constant high-pitched drone probably makes every dog in the vicinity uncomfortable.  I know it makes ME crazy when I have to hear it.

3.  There is no volume control.  Bearing mind #1 and #2, the sound is so awful I had to leave the room a couple of times while making the videos, which is the only effective way to reduce the volume.

4.  The Hokie Pokie Sound Machine doesn’t work with regular records; it only works with the one that came with the truck.  I think it’s because the truck maintains a constant speed as it goes around the record, and the grooves on the record are adapted to that.  I’m not sure why this matters, because the speed of a turntable is constant, also.  All I know is that if you use the Hokie Pokie Sound Machine on a regular LP, when the truck, I mean stylus, gets closer to the inner grooves of the LP, the pitch seems to go up.  In one of the videos below, it sounds like Janis Joplin has inhaled some helium.

Video of the Hokie Pokie Sound Machine playing some of the songs on the included record:

Video of the Hokie Pokie Sound Machine playing a song on one of my own LP records:

In conclusion, I declare this to be a tacky treasure despite all the flaws above, because it’s so silly, that it’s hilarious.  And I’m proud to say that for once I have found a tacky treasure that is not sexual, political, religious, or scatological in nature.  I could actually show this one to my mother without fear of offending her.

Copyright © 2000-2010, Julie Mangin. All Rights Reserved. April 2, 2016