If you consider yourself an ASMR enthusiast, you owe it to yourself to get a good pair of ASMR headphones. The listening experience is almost indescribable, not to mention purely subjective for everyone. Whether you enjoy listening to ASMR while working, relaxing or sleeping, the best headphones for ASMR are precisely what you need to bring about this euphoric experience.
In this guide, we'll look at 5 of the best headphones for ASMR headphones on the market, review them at length and highlight their pros and cons. But before we move to the shortlisted headphones, let's look at ASMR in a nutshell.
- What is ASMR?
- 1. Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort 20
- 2. Best Open-Back: Sennheiser HD 599
- 3. Best Affordable: Cowin E7
- 4. Best Cheap: CozyPhones Sleep Headphones
- 5. Best Value: Panasonic RP HS46EW
- Things to Consider in the Best ASMR Headphones
What is ASMR?
It could be the sound of a paintbrush scraping on canvas, fingernails tapping on wood, a nib slithering on paper or feathers rustling in the air. ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, is a euphoric static-like sensation in response to certain triggering audio and visual stimuli. It's often described as a tingling, ecstatic feeling, almost like a literal "feel shivers run down my spine," normally starting from the scalp and traveling down to your neck and upper spine.
ASMR has only been around for just about a decade. But it quickly attracted a huge online community of people who particularly enjoy ASMR videos. A quick search on YouTube unearths thousands of videos with millions of views. A sizeable chunk of ASMR enthusiasts reports that the sensation helps them relax, fall asleep and cope with life stresses.
So, what does this have to do with headphones? Audio stimuli. ASMR videos are heavily based on sound. Any decent pair of headphones will work. But if you really want to bring out the feeling and maximize your ASMR experience, it's best if you got an outstanding pair. Based on multiple factors- which we'll discuss later, these are the top 5 ASMR headphones.
1. Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort 20
- Compatible Devices: iPhone, iPad and iPod models
- Included Components: QuietComfort 20 headphones, Apple devices, 3 pairs StayHear tips (S,...
These ASMR headphones are pretty good! The Bose QuietComfort 2o, an amazing and compact in-ear headset, ticks almost all boxes you'd think of. For starters, they sport a well-thought-out design, whose build quality is quite evidently premium.
The audio quality is spectacular. Sounds are typically crystal clear, producing well-balanced mids, highs and lows. The impressive noise-canceling technology further enhances this. These headphones let you put on your favorite music, lie back and allow yourself to be transported to a more relaxing place.
One quick point to keep in mind is that these headphones come in two models; one for Android devices and the other for iOS.
2. Best Open-Back: Sennheiser HD 599
- Premium, around-ear, open back headphones: Audiophile sound combined with premium design...
- Padded headband and luxurious velour covered ear pads perfect for long listening sessions...
- Multiple connectivity options: Robust 3 meter detachable cable and 6.3 millimeter jack and...
- Timeless design cues: Ivory color, matte finish together with the brown headband stitching...
- Premium Components: Sennheiser engineered transducers use aluminum voice coils delivering...
The Sennheiser HD 599 headphones are (almost) targeted at audiophiles who want high-quality ASMR headphones without digging too deep into their pockets.
These come in an open-back design, which delivers pleasantly spacious sounds. This gives audio, particularly ASMR, a more natural sound. Therefore, ASMR audio blends in with ambient noise to create a sound that better resembles how humans naturally hear. The openness of the sound certainly contributes to the overall sensory experience. Suffice it to say, the sound quality is equally up there amongst the best we've seen, with well-balanced high-quality audio; clear highs and mids, and a present but not overbearing bass.
The build quality equally stands out. This is best illustrated by the soft earpads and an exceptionally lightweight build, making these headphones extremely comfortable, even for long listening sessions. However, the design also means they aren't suited as sleeping headphones.
3. Best Affordable: Cowin E7
- Active Noise Cancelling technology. Significant noise reduction for travel, work and...
- Proprietary 45mm large-aperture drivers. Deep, accurate bass response. The Active Noise...
- High-quality built-in Microphone and NFC technology. COWIN E7 provides high-quality...
- The professional protein earpad and 90° swiveling earcups. More durability and comfort,...
- 30 hours playtime per charge at Bluetooth mode. A built-in 750mAh battery won't allow your...
This is an affordable ASMR headset that comes pretty stacked with features; wireless, 30-hour battery life, active noise cancellation, built-in microphone and 40mm drivers. This is a good budget package overall for just about any sounds and quite impressive for ASMR.
The wireless design makes them comfortable to use, especially for people who like to listen to ASMR before bed. Its ANC also performs well, blocking out background noise for clearer sound from the headphones. The flashy design is quite appealing to the eye, a definite bonus for the price. Just as important, these headphones have solid build quality, meaning they'll stand to the test of time.
The only significant downside would be the audio quality, which is clearly not as clean as other pricier headphones. However, this is not to say the sound is underwhelming. The Cowin E7 headphones are certainly a good choice if you're on a budget.
4. Best Cheap: CozyPhones Sleep Headphones
- HEADBAND EARPHONES: Lightweight, comfortable and washable sleep headband features a...
- COMFORTABLE EARPHONES FOR SLEEPING: Cool mesh lining keeps you cool at night and helps...
- HEADPHONES FOR WORKING OUT, TRAVEL AND ACTIVE LIFESTYLES: Use for sports, yoga, running,...
- MADE TO LAST: Featuring a flexible and durable 52-inch braided cord that will not kink,...
- GET A GREAT NIGHT'S SLEEP: Drift away while blocking sounds that keep you awake or calm...
These ASMR headphones are specifically designed for sleeping. Basically, it's a headband with two 1/8-inch speakers built into either side. The slim speaker design makes them comfortable for all-night use, even for side sleepers. These are definitely a great option for people who enjoy listening to ASMR videos while they fall asleep.
CozyPhones Sleep Headphones come in a wide variety of colors. They are made of lycra, a breathable material mostly used in close-fitting sports clothing. This ensures that the headphones don't become too hot when worn through the night. To add to the comfort, they come with a velcro strap for adjustability. Plus, the speaker placement can also be tweaked around. However, this also presents the challenge of firmly securing the speakers once you've found the right placement.
The sound quality is surprisingly decent for the design and price. While they might not hold a candle to traditional headsets, they're still more than sufficient to deliver the sensory experience as you drift towards sleep.
5. Best Value: Panasonic RP HS46EW
If you're looking for an alternative to in-ear earbuds, these clip-on headphones might be the one for you. These come in a reasonably small size, are pretty comfortable and deliver superb sound quality.
These headphones sport an open build, which delivers well-blended and balanced. There's a distinct bass, but it's not too deep as so to mask ASMR tones. There's also very minimal sound leak and distortion, thanks to the microphonic-resistant ear cups. The clip-on design helps to hold the ear cups firmly, making them ideal as ASMR headphones for sleeping.
The Panasonic RP-HS46E-W headphones support the use of CD and MP3 players, including any devices that work with a 3.5mm jack pin.
Things to Consider in the Best ASMR Headphones
Stimulating the ASMR feeling requires complete relaxation and comfort. Therefore, it's key that you get comfortable headphones, preferably made of breathable materials. Ideally, the ear cups, headband or mask should be made of soft, high-quality and sweatproof material. This ensures that the headphones don't strain a user, hence you can use them comfortably over an extended period. As much as possible, keep away from synthetic materials that could totally ruin the experience, especially during the terribly hot summer months.
2. Wired vs. Wireless
A huge number of people use ASMR headphones for sleeping. As such, it would be best to buy wireless headphones if this is your plan. If you are planning to wear your headset during the day, you can consider getting wired headphones. With that being said, ASMR headphones, particularly those that come with a sleeping mask or headband, tend to be wireless.
3. Sound Quality
Sound quality is slightly different when it comes to ASMR headphones. Normally, you'd be looking for powerful bass and treble from a regular pair. But with ASMR headphones, you're looking for a product that can deliver perfectly balanced, crisp and clear sound. This does not mean the bass and treble should be underwhelming, certainly not: They are equally well-balanced to soothe the ear and calm the mind, contributing to the ASMR experience.
4. Noise Cancellation
Loud background noises can obscure a lot of sound in ASMR videos; low-frequency ones, such as an air-conditioner's humming, can easily mask the human voice, as well as bass and treble notes. Generally, most people turn up their volume to make up for such interferences. This is undoubtedly a very unhealthy habit since prolonged exposure to high volumes can lead to noise-induced hearing loss in the long run.
Instead of going through such inconveniences, it far easier to buy noise-canceling headphones. Most closed-back headphones come with a degree of passive noise cancellation, where dedicated ones form a tight seal around your ears to block out background noise fully. You can take this a serious notch higher and go for headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC).
How does ANC work? ANC headphones come with a small microphone that picks up the background noise. They then produce a soundwave that's 180-degrees out of phase with the background noise, creating an "anti-sound" that cancels it out without interfering with the audio you're listening to.
5. Closed-Back or Open-Back
The differences between closed-back and open-back headphones are somewhat nuanced for ASMR videos. You'd have to hear them yourself to make out the contrast personally. Your options include:
- Closed-back headphones: Their design isolates sound better than open-back, thanks to the solid outer cover. They are remarkable at noise cancellation, blocking out background noise by at least 10dB. They also provide a more immersive experience, giving you the impression of the sound coming from "inside your head."
- Open-back headphones: Don't provide any sound isolation since the holes on the cover allow air and sound to pass through the cups freely. Nevertheless, some people enjoy listening with them because they blend in background noise with the headphones' sounds.
6. Adjustable Size and Ear Cups
As mentioned above, comfort is an essential aspect of ASMR. Therefore, it's important to get a pair of headphones that fit you perfectly. You can consider going for a pair with an adjustable band, making it more convenient for multi-use. Additionally, adjustable cups allow you to place them on your ears with more precision.
There are three main form factors to choose from:
- Over-ear headphones: These have large ear cups that sit comfortably over your ears. The ear cups cover the ears completely, thus providing a fair amount of sound isolation. However, these might not be the most comfortable headphones for sleeping, especially if you are a side sleeper.
- On-ear headphones: These are lighter and smaller, where the ear cups sit directly on top of the ears. Consequently, they can exert a lot of pressure on the earlobes, which can get pretty uncomfortable over time. They are also not suitable for sleeping.
- In-ear headphones: These come in two types; earbud and in-ear monitors (IEMs). Earbuds sit on the ear opening just outside the ear canal, typically known as the concha. Their biggest downside is a fixed size, which means they might fall off easily or fail to fit if you don't get the perfect fit.
- Conversely, IEMs have soft, foam or silicone ear tips that are inserted into the ear canals. The snug fit ensures that they seal out background noise and also sit inside the ears firmly. These are well-suited for sleeping.
The key takeaway is your preferred form factor choice depends on your personal needs and preferences. For instance, if your priority is to listen to ASMR for sleeping, go for headphones specifically made for sleep.
1. Is listening to ASMR while sleeping harmful?
No. Despite what some might be tempted to think, listening to ASMR while sleeping is a good idea. In fact, plenty of people do it when going to bed to enhance their sleep quality. Even when it doesn't help you to fall asleep, it relaxes your mind and body.
However, you should never listen to ASMR while driving!
2. Is ASMR better with headphones or earphones?
(On-ear) headphones create a broader sound stage than (in-ear) earphones. This makes headphones more suited to the requirements of ASMR audio.
3. How loud should ASMR get?
ASMR experts recommend not going louder than 85 dB. Higher frequencies pose a lot of risks to human ears.