Steampunk Soundsystem: Victorian-themed DJ rig

Boing Boing reader Lord Baron Joseph C.R. Vourteque of the group SteamPunk Chicago shares photos of this spectacular home-modded gizmo with us, and says,

For the past month my friend Evad and I have been working on our (Extra-ordinary) Aural Fusionoscope & Amplification Machine, a glorified pseudo-Victorian way of saying "DJ rig."

Do pray pass the smelling salts, for I believe I may faint from sheer delight.

From the specs:

[T]his was originally a Numark CD-Mix 2 which I purchased from my good friend Orvtronixx. We built a wooden box around it and then got down to the lengthy task of expanding the audio ins & outs from the back of the box. After much soldering (and gnashing of teeth) we successfully installed a balanced XLR out, three RCA line-ins and a 1/4 in" microphone line in. We re-routed the main RCA unbalanced master out to a small speaker that is housed just below the vintage cast-iron Phonogram horn to act as the DJs personal monitoring system and re-routed the main mic out into a small microphone housed in the the smaller 1920s Ford car horn (which we repainted in black and copper). We then took a 1940s radiator, took it apart and housed the transformer in it. All in all the entire rig is an all in one system; though for large clubs we highly suggest running the XLR outs to the main sound.
Lots more photos and details here. If you're in Chicago, you can experience the rig in person at a local club tonight. With gypsies and belly dancers, of course.

[ photos courtesy ]



  1. is there a historical year in particular where restoring something to that year is no longer “steampunk” and just “taking stuff and making it shittier sounding and old-looking for no good reason?”

    i can see the allure of some steampunk stuff (i’m certainly exposed to a huge universe of it on BB, for better or worse), and while I’m sure the idea of this was noble, it just looks dumb. how about trying to make stuff better instead making it older looking for the sake of making it older looking.

    1. Something looking more steampunk isn’t about it ‘looking better’. The aesthetics of steampunk come from its practicalities, and through making otherwise useless junk bits into productive items; its by making a mix-mash of parts into a working item that makes it aesthetically pleasing.

      While I’m there, the genre doesn’t require items to look neo-victorian/edwardian, it requires that it be of this time period generally ie. the items used should resemble those in common usage of the times. Of course there is room for hints of other stuff in there, and the anachronisms that couple steampunk allow for a small sum of poetic licensing with each ‘invention’.

  2. Ya I don’t see a steampunk dj rig. I see a painted Midi controller bolted to what you *might* want to call a steampunk PA or stereo system.

    I mean common, I’ve got a midi controller just like that and those knobs pop right off. Could have easily put brass ones on there. And that’s just for starters, never mind what could have been done with those instrument panels or LEDs (how steampunk are LEDs?)

    1. You do know there is a huge difference between a “MIDI controller” and a DJ rig, right?

      A MIDI controller is used to control the parameters of sound in a sequencer through a “Musical Instrument Digital Interface” while a DJ rig is used to mix two already produced tracks.

      That is two tracks that have most likely already been affected by a MIDI controller. Before you hate why don’t you get your gear straight buddy.

      1. Oh give me a brake. You catch me on a red herring technical detail and my review means nothing? Ok upon closer investigation it might be an analogue front-loading CD-based system, so not technically a MIDI system. SAME painted plastic knobs!

        Secondly, if you want to take a piss on my knowledge of gear (that I use to DJ with by the way), at least get it right. A MIDI controller’s “parameters of sound”, as you call it, can, and often are, the same as the “two already produced tracks”. So there’s plenty of overlap.

        In short – there are MIDI DJ-rigs on the market the most popular being the vestax, which I wish I could afford. Plenty of them on the market though, and they look like the one above, so when I said above “I see…” I was not technically wrong.

        At any rate, my apologies to those that took offence to my critique that was less than platitudes. Obviously every build project deserves a hug and gold star and hitting shit with a coat of gold paint makes it “steam punk”.

    2. “Waahh, I want nixie tubes and brass knobs,” you whine.

      If you read the article, you would notice that it clearly shows that the “LED screen” is actually a thin piece of paper that an operator (sitting under the table) writes the current track on, which is backlit with a gas lamp.

      Also the knobs and buttons are made from a rare form of colored ivory.

  3. You know, Steampunk is just made-up anyway, kind of like goth.

    The damn thing works, it looks old-time, and it’s pretty sci-fi. Kudos to the guys who made it! Does it make your voice sound like old-timey radio?

  4. Dang!

    I just dropped in here to needlessly take a shit on someone else’s fun project, but it looks like everybody beat me to it. I suppose I’ll just go back to my life of not producing anything worthy of note except for negative opinions of every god dam thing I see.

    Peace Out Bitches!

    P.S. Is there a label we could assign to the above posters? Something along the lines of “Internet Tough Guy”. My vote would “Parade Pissers”

  5. Thanks everyone for all the coverage and support! We took the machine out for a test drive the other night and other than needing to install a cooling system (I’m sure Evad already has some ideas) for the transformer all went well!

    You guys at Boing Boing rule!


  6. Seriously, if you can’t tell a MIDI controller from a dual cd DJ rig, no amount of semantics is going to save you.

    Have heart, old chap – when I made the Hello Kitty Lineman’s Handset I took the same ration of garbage from people who don’t get it. Somehow they adhere to miracle standards where everything should come out perfect and absolutely authentic on the first try with no errors and meet their standards. Poppycock! As a DJ who knows the difference between a midi controller and a DJ rig I would love to use this bit of fun you created – and I hope that you further develop it. MAybe find a hackerspace / workshop club that can help you replace the knobs/faders with wood ones, and cut a new faceplate and engrave the markings.

    The point is , keep creating! Keep making! Let the haters hate, and the lovers love.


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