What is ASMR and How Can You Make It?

September 5, 2022
4 mins read

Autonomous sensory meridian response or ASMR exploded in popularity over the past few years, and in 2021, it was the third most searched term on YouTube with over 14 million searches. This popular sensory audio response has become a staple in online content across all forms of content platforms.

Firstly, you either get it or you don’t. It’s kind of like marmite (apologies to our non-Brit readers who won’t get this). Unfortunately, not everyone will experience the ASMR tingles and sensations this audio effect does to us.

What is ASMR?

ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response; It has been stickered with many terms such as “brain tingles” or “brain orgasms”, and it has been believed to have started in 2010 when Jennifer Allen began a Facebook group dedicated to finding out more about this unusual audio sensory feeling. The group rapidly gained popularity as people had a term for this unique but strange feeling. Five years later, in late 2015, it would get its first scientific study.

ASMR video content has exploded in popularity (during the beginning of 2013). It now has become a category on the most prominent streaming/social/video content platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, etc. You can find people opening up Pokémon cards/toys to content creators and whispering into highly sensitive microphones. There are so many different types of ASMR that there is something for everyone.

Though not everyone will feel the tingling sensations and relaxing feelings on top of their head (and sometimes down through the spine and limbs), it also brings a relaxed and soothing feeling of relaxation and drowsiness to the user.

Popularity and where is it now?

Online crazes don’t last long, maybe a few months, until they have been overdone or the next big thing arrives and it the prior becomes obsolete. ASMR had its boom but has quietly stuck around for those hardcore fans producing millions of views and minutes worth of streamable video content. 

The people who create this content can be called “ASMRtists,” producing all various types of ASMR content. As for how much is available, there are over 13 million ASMR videos on YouTube, 10 million on Instagram, and over 14 million on TikTok and growing. Twitch has made a whole category on it, allowing you to watch your favorite streamers perform live.

ASMR content can be anything, from the satisfying sound of eating food, opening a pack of toys, roleplaying a character within a favorite film or show, or just being artsy and exciting. The limit to ASMR is only bound by the what sounds you produce to achieve that ASMR-tingle. It is important, though, to show a visual element to the sounds. People like to see what is producing these sounds, and some channels play to the visual aspect, too (search up ASMR roleplay, and you’ll find anything from dentists to eye tests)

ASMR Equipment

Most, if not all, ASMR content creators use highly-sensitive microphones to get perfect recordings. Picking up every bit of sound produced from crunching on food to whispering quiet words into your ears. 

You don’t need the latest and most expensive microphones on the market. Picking up something cheap like a lavalier microphone is an ideal way to get started if you want something small, mobile, and suitable for short TikTok-like content.

Here are a few recommendations and what other ASMRtists are using.

ASMR Mobile Microphones

You could use your built-in microphone on your phone, which is entirely acceptable for starting, but you will be limited in the high-frequency range of sounds and won’t achieve that pleasing ASMR effect. 

Picking up something like a lavalier microphone is perfect. It’s small, lightweight, portable, and can directly plug into your phone. It can be either set as an omnidirectional microphone (picking up all sound in all directions) or a unidirectional (also known as cardioid, top/back only) microphone, which is perfect for quiet, soft whisper-like talking segments. 

Make sure you pick up a 3.5mm lighting port adapter or USB-C if you are going to pick one up since not all of them will come with one.

ASMR USB Microphone

With the pandemic and everyone being locked in their homes working, USB microphones became a huge demand. Hundreds of options are available to you, each bringing its shapes, design, and specs. Companies like Blue, Shure, and Audio-Technica have produced affordable, high-quality microphones for years and have made themselves the titans of the microphone world. There is no list on the internet that doesn’t have at least one of their products in it.

Very simple to use out of the box. Just plug into a PC or Mac, bring up your audio recording software of choice, set your microphone capture pattern, and off you go. Not as portable and small as mobile options, but higher build quality. If you are starting streaming or video creation at a desk setup or studio, picking up one of these will give you a fantastic start without breaking the bank.

XLR/Binaural Microphone

If you are serious about becoming the next big ASMRtists on twitch or youtube or need an upgrade, then investing in an XLR or Binaural microphone setup is a must. These options are the top dog for audio recording. You will see them often within podcast studios, online content creator videos and streams, and anyone who uses microphones in a professional environment. 

Binaural Microphones are super expensive, with most of them aimed at ASMR usage. These are often shaped like human ears and designed to capture sound using a stereo binaural microphone within the ear canals themselves, replicating the sound and feeling of somebody whispering into your ears… 

Keep in mind that a microphone is only half of the setup; you will also need to look into an audio interface to power the microphone and adjust levels and connect to your PC or Mac. There are a ton of guides online offering recommendations and programs to use, so make sure you do your research before 100% investing in these products.

ASMR has made a place on the internet, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

For more on audio, check out these articles:

The Best Audio-Based YouTubers You Should Be Watching

Kyle Close

Kai hails from the seaside town of Barry, South Wales in the UK. Lover of all things retro from cameras, video games, and British 90s television shows.

Previously worked with brand projects from Panasonic, Nvidia, and Abbey Road Studios.