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the smell will be burning insulation on the windings of the motor probably from the brushes being too short and arcing on the armature thereby overheating the motor. suggest you take it to an appliance repair shop for quote on repairs.
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The speed control on the back is simply a variable resistance potentiometer, the same thing that controls the volume on older amplifiers. The output current to the motor is supplied by the printed circuit board in the bottom of the unit. This allows gradual increases in speed to avoid over-torquing the motor on speedup. Even the poshy-posh-posh mixers do this.
At least it still works. The most common problem is the cheap plastic drive gears that strip out with a mild cookie dough, this jams the beaters together and requires burial-at-dumpster.