What Is ASMR? | Musician Nerd Science

Updated on Dec 21, 2020

What Is ASMR?

ASMR, also known as an autonomous sensory meridian response, is one of the latest trends taking the internet by storm through the form of both videos and audio clips. What started as just "satisfaction" videos have morphed into something therapeutic, helping remedy real issues like insomnia. The variety of content that makes up ASMR is astounding, from cutting through different materials & watching water droplets fall, to listening to someone whispering words that are nice to hear.

Water Droplet Dripping From Leaf For Calming Sounds
Water Droplet Dripping From Leaf For Calming Sounds

These well-developed audio & video clips create a euphoric, lovely feeling inside most people. This resulting feeling from ASMR is described as a tingling sensation that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. It is, in my opinion, the greatest form of the “chills” going down your neck & spine. Others may describe it as “brain tingles”, though I personally can’t say I’ve felt the sensation in my head.

That being said, ASMR effects everyone differently, and it’s worth experimenting with a variety of videos both auditory and visual.

Benefits Of ASMR?

ASMR has made its way all across social media, and while it may seem like a fad to some, it contains its own psychological benefits. An initial study found ASMR to result in a lower heart rate, which may prove beneficial for those who experience a lot of anxiety or anger. Aside from the reduced heart rate, participants in these studies were shown to have significant increases in positive emotions, such as relaxation & feelings of social connection.

Woman In Bed Sleeping Peacefully
Woman In Bed Sleeping Peacefully

The conclusion of the study conducted by Giulia Lara Poerio was that "those who experience ASMR reported more frequent tingling, increased levels of excitement and calmness, and decreased levels of stress and sadness". In this day and age where much of the younger generation is seeing an increase in mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, it’s no wonder ASMR has gained such massive popularity.

For others who have trouble sleeping, such as myself, the benefits of ASMR can be incredibly impactful here. When we get tired, our breathing slows and our heartbeat decreases. This helps the brain fall asleep. With ASMR, the common result from the study above was lower heartrates. For this reason, it makes sense that some people with insomnia have reported ASMR to be helpful.

Listening To ASMR

Listening to ASMR can take many forms. Some people follow ASMR channels on social media and listen to them when they show up on my feed. Others, however, will listen to longer clips while sleeping or meditating. The level of intensity can vary drastically, with specialists working really hard to leverage every component of ASMR to trigger those brain "tingles".

Woman Meditating In The Dark
Woman Meditating In The Dark

The way everyone reacts differs, so it's worth experimenting with various types of ASMR. While some people like the sounds of shredding, cutting, and tearing, others prefer the sound of a soothing voice whispering into their ears, quietly speaking nice words. You can easily find a massive variety of videos and audio clips across popular websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

If you're prone to high-stress, try and find time in your day to step away from the real world and unwind. I find that sitting in a dark room with my headphones listening to ASMR at the end of the day helps remove all the stress I had built up.

How To Create ASMR?

Of course, many people want to know, how can I create my own ASMR videos? The basic idea is pretty simple, where you record your voice (or objects) making these euphoric sounds. However, the quality of your recording will make or break the effectiveness of your ASMR videos, so we'll go through the most important factors, starting with your performance.

It makes sense that your performance is going to be the most important factor, as even if you do everything else right, your ASMR is only as good as the sounds you create. Objects are a little too general to touch upon, but if you're doing something simple like cutting paper (or other objects), making sure to use high-quality scissors for seamless cutting is essential.

If you're using your voice, which we would recommend, there are a few factors to consider. The first is your breathing. Breathe noises are picked up easily and can be a bit disruptive to your audio, and so we recommend facing away for this and only approaching the microphone when whispering. Other than that, it's smart to consider how your microphone reacts to the air of your voice (particular on "S" sounds) & different polosive sounds from letters like B, P & T. We'll cover solutions for that in the next portion about microphones.

Condenser Microphone For Doing ASMR
Condenser Microphone For Doing ASMR

One of the most important components to recording high-quality audio is a good ASMR microphone. Without diving too deep into this, it's important to consider the two types of microphones at your disposal. There are Condenser Microphones and there are dynamic microphones. Because of their high sensitivty, condenser microphones pick up a greater level of depth in audio, which is why they're so popular for professional recordings with both vocals & instruments.

Aside from a good microphone, it's worth looking at additional accessories that can help improve the quality of your audio. Previously we mentioned plosive sounds & the hissing sounds your voice can make. These can be remedied by using a pop-filter & spherical wind which some microphones have built-in. If not, you can buy them separately. If you've ever seen a round/square material placed in front of a microphone (commonly seen in recording studios), this is a pop filter. They're generally cheap.

Lastly, it's important to consider where you record your ASMR. Are you in the basement with the laundry where the room next door is going "clunk clunk clunk" or maybe the A/C is blowing in the room next to yours? You'll need to be sure you find the quietest space possible if you want the best sound. Basements often create a more "dungeon" level of ambiance, which could be worth experimenting with, but in my opinion, finding an above-ground room may be more beneficial.

If you chose a condenser for your ASMR microphone, the ambiance (echoes and reverberance) of the room will be more impactful. While in some instances that can add massive character to your recording, it can be difficult to work within an audio editing software. If you don't plan to edit your sound, then a room with a strong ambiance may actually be better for you. Otherwise, you can add those effects later on.


AMSR is clearly much more than just an internet fad. What started as calming videos popping up on your Instagram discovery page has turned into a revolutionary sensation helping millions of people across the globe. While many things can be categorized as ASMR, the true background refers to a more intense "tingling" sensation in the brain, and the benefits that have stemmed from this are incredible.

Do you have experience with ASMR? We would love to hear about your first time with it, and how it's impacted your life. If you haven't, you can check out this list of the Best ASMR YouTube Channels. Big shout out to Vanity Compare for help on this article. We sincerely hope you find it as meaningful as we have.

Posted on Nov 16, 2020


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