Daniel Miller studio tips

Electronic music legend Daniel Miller is an artist, producer and DJ who launched Mute Records in 1978 with his own 7” single – ‘Warm Leatherette’ under the name The Normal, and went on to work with acts like Fad Gadget, Depeche Mode, Moby, Erasure, Yazoo and Goldfrapp. He recently started DJ-ing again and plays regular techno sets worldwide. Dynaudio met Daniel Miller in his home studio for a chat about music, synthesizers, mixing and production.

Daniel Miller

Daniel Miller talks synths and punk

It’s amazing hearing Daniel talk about how he got into synths and his love for his MiniKorg-700S - for its limitations as much as its powers! He says he fell for it because it has a repeat and you can get a rhythmic repeat pattern,

“It was liberating, being able to overdub and not be with a band, I was playing guitar at the time and I’m a very bad guitarist, and it was very hard for me to express to the other guys what I wanted to play. I really wanted to make these more electronic sounds.

I thought punk rock was great for a moment but then actually what punk rock sounded like was sped up pub rock mostly, sometimes with great lyrics. Musically it wasn’t really going anywhere for me.

With a monophonic synthesizer it was great, first of all you can’t play chords which is great, that’s why I like a monophonic synthesizer, I’m not big on chords, and it was much more about direct connection between your head and the tape.”

Production tips

Daniel’s production tips include never using presets, and making sure you create a special sound.

“The space that you’re in is very important, it’s got to be a space you feel comfortable in as a musician as a producer. It gets more difficult as you get more stuff. Try and limit the number of decisions you have to make, I think that’s very important.

Focus on the core of the song, or the core of the piece of music you are making, don’t just add stuff. Don’t use presets, don’t record too much stuff, limit your number of tracks. I think it’s really important to have your own signature sound if you’re making electronic music.”


Monitoring and mixing are crucial and he sticks with his favourite tools.

“Generally, I like to stick with one set of speakers for the whole project. Know those speakers inside out and trust them. Then occasionally listen on very small speakers and very big speakers.

When I was working with Depeche, we only really used the big speakers. Once we were happy with the mix, we would just sit back and enjoy this big sound. It’s very misleading sometimes. So, if you start very quietly, when you turn it up a tiny bit it sounds really loud even though it’s not loud – and there is no distortion. If I’m messing around with a banging techno track then I’ll turn it up, but when I’m working with sounds, I don’t need to hear them loud, I just need to hear them clearly.

The ones I happen to like are Dynaudio BM15’s. For as long as I can remember, we have had those in the studio – and in my other studio in Berlin. If I play something through there I immediately know what’s wrong with it or what’s good about it.”

  • Dynaudio have brought out new personal reference monitors LYD, designed to redefine nearfield monitoring, and for places like home studios. They say, “they sound exactly the same at low volumes as when cranked up loud, which will often save precious production time that can then be spent on creating more music. In short, it is no longer necessary to redo late night mixes created at low volumes.”