I asked a beautiful machine to help me develop steampunk concept art for my podcast studio. The results surprised me. Working with Midjourney‘s artificial intelligence, I created seven steampunk microphone designs that would look right at home inside my podcast-producing dirigible.
Through this process, I learned a few things. First: Machines are already capable of creating eye-catching steampunk concept art. Second: The steampunk community has thoughts about AI. Third: I want one of these podcast microphones to exist in the real world.
Ready to see them? Here are the seven concepts:
- The Dirigible Steampunk Microphone
- The Illuminated Rocketman
- The Steampunk Butterfly Microphone
- The Steam Grenade Microphone
- The Steam Pipe Recorder
- The Buzzing Backpack Microphone
- The Audio Jewel
Podcast Microphones: Steampunk Concept Art
7. The Dirigible Steampunk Microphone
This striking audio device looks almost exactly like my airship. That’s why I’d like to see this steampunk concept art made into the real deal. Imagine plugging it in alongside a copper keyboard, turning a gear to get it started, and hosting a show with similarly goggled guests.
The dirigible microphone captures audio in its balloon on top, and there’s a built-in webcam to capture video while you record. The front of the microphone helps you orient the direction toward the speaker and the bronze finish coordinates with other steampunk paraphernalia.
Some of my steampunk peers seem to dislike the ornate details on the head of the microphone. For me, it’s one of the best parts!
6. The Illuminated Rocketman
Steampunk concept art sometimes focuses too heavily on the presence of gears and goggles. That’s what makes this microphone design so appealing. It features a coiled wire, a lightbulb top cap, and a small microphone head on the back.
The overall effect? It looks like a person in a spacesuit. Steampunk podcasters could use a real-world version of this to take their show to the stars. Arguably, this concept art falls more into the surreal painting style than a steampunk style.
Steampunks have strong opinions on this style, too. Some love the light-bulb style head. Others hate it.
5. The Steampunk Butterfly Microphone
The Steampunk Butterfly Microphone features the same shape as the Dirigible style, but it features flapping wings on the sides. These wings would certainly affect the audio capture quality, so it would be a best practice to leave them off during your show.
A bacteria-shaped volume nob juts from the back of this steampunk microphone. Maybe you could turn it to increase or decrease the speed of the wings. Or maybe the knob just controls input volume. In either case, it’s a unique addition to our collection.
4. The Steam Grenade Microphone
Not all podcasters broadcast from the sky. Some of us dwell underground in our bunkers, hunkered under countless tons of metal for protection from the outside world. That’s the target audience for the Steam Grenade Microphone.
Shaped like its name, this heavy-duty recording device looks like it was hacked together from the broken bodies of three other microphones. I prefer this steampunk concept art to others because of the texture of the image. Unlike some of the others, it looks almost like this was shot for a video game.
3. The Steam Pipe Recorder
I created this steampunk concept art specifically for those who prefer shotgun-style microphones. It looks a bit like a ray-gun from a pulp novel, with maroon piping around the midsection and on top. The only thing that seems a little off-brand is a modern cord on the back.
My advice for anyone making a physical prototype of this microphone? Modify that rear cord with a metal coil or spring. The existence of modern tech breaks the illusion and, as long as you’re going out of your way to create a steampunk microphone, why not make it look the best it can?
2. The Buzzing Backpack Microphone
In designing this steampunk concept art, I wanted my AI partner to focus on details. It came up with intricate interior designs for the head and body of the microphone, but the best part is the far side. The cord attaches to a brass pipe. And the brass pipe breaks into a chaos of wires. It looks sharp, and I mean that literally.
This steampunk design doesn’t give us many clues as to the size of the technology. Assuming it’s designed for desktop usage, the backpack seems superfluous. Remove the base it stands on, ramp up the size (and limit the weight), and it would look best as a steampunk backpack.
I picture this as an intricate costume piece, which (of course) could complement the season when you listen to the best Halloween podcasts.
1. The Audio Jewel Steampunk Microphone
Like several of the other steampunk microphone designs, the Ornate style relies on intricate webs of details on the surface of the grill. The brass material has a gold tone. It features several knobs at the base. Small pipes jut upward, pointing toward the head of the microphone and serving no clear purpose.
We don’t get much of an idea of the connection for this style, which has a coil tightly wound around the circle at the bottom. If that uncoils, it could function as a way to connect the mic to a mixer or computer.
As steampunk concept art, the jewel microphone stands out as an eyecatcher. As a piece of podcasting equipment, the value would depend on the execution of its manufacturing.
Steampunk Microphone Concept Art: Final Thoughts
Steampunk podcasters lack choices for at-home studio microphones, and I can’t fit everyone on my airship. That’s why we need a reputable company to build at least one of these designs as a real, working peripheral. The question is: Who has the design resources and technical know-how to make it happen? Shure, I’m looking at you.
The steampunk community seems torn on the use of AI for creating concept art. Many traditionalists prefer to create real-world gear themselves and scorn the idea that a machine could add value. Others see artificial intelligence as another tool for creativity. These microphone concepts won’t answer that question fully, but they’re certainly a delight to look at.
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