Whether you are listening to ASMR to help you wind down for a good night’s sleep. Or to encourage some relaxation after dealing with life’s daily stresses. A good pair of headphones boasting comfort and high-quality sound is necessary to get the most your of your audio experience. So we have put together our list of the best headphones for ASMR, so you can lie back and enjoy the soothing, tingle-inducing sound for as long as you can stay awake.
What is ASMR?
In case any of you are unfamiliar with exactly what ASMR is, here is a quick explanation. ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, a term coined by a woman named Jennifer Allen in 2010. It describes the previously unexplained tingling and euphoric responses some people experience when exposed to certain audio and visual stimuli.
Those who experience such responses often describe the feeling as “static-like” tingling, running from the scalp and down the spine or goosebumps. It also brings about a feeling of calmness, helping to ease anxiety and induce sleep. Although it is thought that only half of all people are able to experience such reactions, the phenomenon has risen to popularity on YouTube.
Video creators now dubbed “ASMRtists” will create content featuring whispering voices, tapping and scratching sounds, or roleplay experiences such as a trip to the barbers or doctor’s office. As so many of these are very audio-focused, a high-quality pair of headphones will provide a more immersive experience, and for those who fall asleep to the relaxing sounds, comfort is a must.
Active Noise Cancellation
When looking for the best headphones for ASMR, active noise cancellation (ANC) is a fantastic feature to keep in mind when purchasing. This clever technology allows the headphones to listen to the ambient sounds around you, and then produce a sound that is the exact opposite to that sound wave (known as an anti-phase) which in theory should cancel out the noise.
As the above image illustrates, the positive and negative pressure of the two sound waves are acting against each other, and thus canceling each other out so you hear only your audio. Thanks to ANC you can enjoy the quiet relaxing tones to your video without having to increase the volume to overcome outside disruption, reducing noise damage to your eardrum.
It is important to know the difference between ANC and passive noise cancellation (PNC), also known as noise isolation. Rather than using electronic technology to block external noise, PNC uses physical barriers by either formal a tight seal using either foam padding in over-ear earcups or secure tips on earbuds.
Another feature to consider when purchasing ASMR headphones is the soundstage that they can create. To explain, a soundstage is a virtual 3D space, created by your headphones to allow you to hear the location a sound is coming from. Imagine a surround sound set up within your living room, each speaker will produce different sounds and frequencies at different times to enable you to locate that sounds’ source.
Source: Headphone Dungeon
In headphones, they can either create this using True Surround Sound, constructed of multiple speakers within each earcup working in the same manner as your living room set up. Or more commonly, they will virtually mimic the various directional sound sources allowing you to interpret the location of the sound is coming from.
Source: Headphone Dungeon
When listening to ASMR this is beneficial, particularly when you are listening for the gentle sounds of whispering in your ear. This allows you to realistically sense where the sound is coming from and can heighten your body’s responses to the stimuli.
Earbuds vs Over-ear Headphones for ASMR
Both earbuds and over-ear headphones can be great choices for listening to ASMR, but each has its own pros and cons.
Earbuds for ASMR
Pros: Earbuds sit just within the ear on the concha, the opening just before your ear canal. Typically made with soft foam or silicone tips, they form a tight but comfortable seal to isolate any background noise. Being so close to the inner ear, allows the sound to feel much closer to your headspace, which for some can increase sensitivity to their ASMR triggers.
Sitting within the ear, the small size also makes wearing earbuds much more comfortable to sleep in for many people. This allows you to drift off into a peaceful sleep without large earcups or headbands impacting where you lay your head.
Cons: Acoustically speaking, earbuds struggle to compete with headphones when creating a wide soundstage. Equipped with smaller drivers and often a lower frequency range than competing over-ear headphones, saying this their proximity to ear still allows for a good bass response in spite of this.
Over-ear Headphones for ASMR
Pros: Over-ear headphones are built with much larger sound drivers, allowing them to recreate a wide range of frequencies, letting you hear every sound in for crystal clear definition. By completely encapsulating the ears within padded earcups, over-ear headphones are able to passively block out disruptive background noises. Allowing you to immerse yourself within the wider soundstage that these provide in comparison to earbuds.
Cons: The obvious con when using over-headphones for ASMR is their size. If you tend to fall asleep while listening to the relaxing audio then you may find the headband and large earcups uncomfortable when repositioning yourself in your sleep. They may even prevent you from dozing off entirely which can be frustrating when using ASMR to induce sleep. If you want the optimum sound experience that over-ear headphones can deliver then we recommend flatter earcups.
A new breed of headphones has also entered the market, ideal for ASMR enthusiasts who want optimum comfort – the sleeping headphone. We have included a few in our list, as the innovative design (resembling a headband) sits around your head and over your ears, made of flat and soft fabrics. The in-built speakers are incredibly thin, allowing you to lay on your side or however, you feel comfortable while still enjoying your audio.
Review of the Best Headphones For ASMR
To make this review easier for you to navigate, we have split the headphones into categories based on their design. Best sleeping headphones, best earbuds, and best over-ear headphones for listening to ASMR.
Best Sleeping Headphones
If a good nights sleep is paramount to you, then these comfortable designs may be just what you are looking for –
1. SleepPhones Wireless Sleep Headphones by AcousticSheep – Best Overall Sleeping Headphones
Co-created and designed by a doctor, these revolutionary headphones were conceived due to a lack of comfortable sleeping headphones on the market. If you like to snuggle down and lay on your side while listening to ASMR then these wireless SleepPhones are the perfect solution. Available in sizes small, medium, and large, there is a size to accommodate pretty much everyone.
The built-in speakers, although not as high definition as traditionally designed headphones, provide a good quality sound that will still enable you to enjoy the gentle tones to your ASMR without sounding tinny. The ultra-thin flat design removes the struggle to get to sleep you may find with over-ear or in-ear headphones as it alleviates any bulkiness or pressure.
The 12-hour battery life means you can listen the whole night through, which is great if you need to block out the sounds of a snoring partner or disruptive traffic to get a restful night’s sleep. Available in two types of fabric, either soft, warm fleece or their moisture-wicking, lightweight breeze fabric. Allowing you to keep warm or cool depending on your preference, the headband is also machine washable when the internal components are removed.
- Designed by a doctor for optimal sleep comfort
- Ultra-thin speakers
- 12-hour battery life
- Two fabric options, fleece or breeze
- Available in sizes small, medium, large
- Sound quality not as high definition as traditional headphones
- Some reviewers have struggled with sizing
2. Lavince Sleep Headphones – Best Budget Sleeping Headphones
If you are looking for a budget pair of sleeping headphones that you can comfortably drift off in, while still getting the most out of your ASMR audio, then the Lavince sleep headphones are a fantastic choice. With a speaker thickness of only 0.25 inches, you can enjoy the luxury of listening in complete comfort no matter what position you sleep in.
As well as being compact, these slim speakers offer true HD HIFI sound so you can all the tingle-inducing sounds in your ASMR audio. One charge of the built-in polymer lithium battery will provide you with 8-10 hours of enjoyable listening, lasting you the whole night. While the Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology ensures a good clear connection at all times.
The highly absorbent, breathable materials used to construct the headband actually aid to evaporate sweat, leaving your ears cool and dry all night long. Sadly the Lavince sleep headphones only come in one size, however, the fabric is incredibly stretchy fitting most head sizes from children to adults.
- Speaker thickness only 0.25inches
- True HD Hifi sound
- Bluetooth 5.0 wireless technology
- Breathable, sweat-absorbent, stretch materials
- Only available in one size
- Shorter battery life than higher-end sleep headphones
3. MUSICOZY 3D Sleep Mask Headphones – Best Eye Mask Headphones
Taking the realm of sleeping headphones one step further, Musicozy has created an ergonomic headband that features in-built speakers and an eye mask. Designed to block out both light and irritating background noises, you can relax and unwind with no distractions, aiding a peaceful night’s sleep.
Of course, this design will not enable you to see any of the visual triggers your ASMR content may contain. However, the high-fidelity speakers recreate defined audio that is sure to have you experiencing tingles all over, as you listen to the various tapping, whispering, and stimulating sounds preparing you for a restful night’s sleep.
Available in 5 colors, the fabric is also machine washable once you remove your speakers, for quick and easy cleaning. Built with memory foam for a close and comfortable fit, the snug design lends itself to great noise isolation. Available in just one size, the adjustable velcro fastening ensures it securely fits most heads, however, some reviewers have noted the velcro itself can be uncomfortable and noisy.
- Ergonomic eye-mask to block light
- Built-in high fidelity speakers
- Available in 5 colors
- Machine washable
- Adjustable sizing
- Cannot be used for experiencing visual triggers
- Velcro can be uncomfortable and noisy
- Only available in one size
Best Earbuds for ASMR
If you are searching for higher quality sound, while still using a headphone that small and comfortable, Earbuds might be your best choice for ASMR.
1. Panasonic True Wireless Earbuds – Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds
There is nothing worse when you are trying to drift off into the relaxing world of ASMR than snoring, noisy housemates, or outside traffic interrupting you. Panasonic has thankfully designed these industry-leading dual hybrid noise-canceling earbuds to combat such a frustrating problem.
These clever earbuds use advanced feedforward and feedback technology to ensure you only hear what you want to hear. Allowing you to switch between complete noise isolation, to “Ambient Sound Mode” for when you want to be aware of what’s happening around you.
The 8mm drivers deliver unmistakably clear sound, so you don’t miss any of your favorite audio stimuli whichever mode you use. Some reviewers however have noted the soundstage just does not compare to an over-ear model.
The earpieces come with 5 varying tip sizes from extra small to extra large to accommodate for as many people as possible, although some people struggle with the in-ear design. The earbuds themselves are also incredibly lightweight and come with IPX4 water resistance, protecting them from sweat or water damage if you like to keep them in overnight or unwind with ASMR in the bath.
- Dual hybrid noise cancellation
- Ambient sound mode
- 4 varying ear tip sizes
- 8mm clear sound drivers
- IPX4 water resistance
- Smaller soundstage than over-ear headphones
- Eartips uncomfortable for some wearers
2. JVC HAA50TB Truly Wireless Earbuds – Best Comfort Earbuds
If you want to enjoy hours of listening with no discomfort then the JVC HAA50TB are the perfect choice. The earbud tips are made of soft memory foam that adjusts to the size of your ear to ensure a snug fit. Not only are they comfortable but the padding provides added noise isolation when ANC is not in use.
If you want to completely tune out any background noise you can switch on the active noise cancellation and focus solely on the audio you want to hear. With the feature switched on these earbuds can still deliver 24 hours worth of battery life, with 8 hours of continuous playback and a convenient charging case for safe storage.
The 10mm drivers provide exceptionally clear audio for an earbud, with a great balance of bass and treble, allowing you to pick up on all of the delicate sounds of your favorite ASMR. If you also struggle with ear sweat after hours of listening don’t worry as the HAA50TB is also IPX4 water-resistant, keeping them safe from any damage.
- Memory foam earbud tips
- Active noise cancellation
- 10mm drivers provide clear treble and bass
- IPX4 water-resistant
- 8 hours continuous playback
- Clear audio but still cannot match over-ear headphones
- Does not come with a wide range of ear tips
Best Over-ear Headphones for ASMR
Although not the comfiest to sleep in, if you want the most lifelike ASMR experience, over-ear headphones can provide an unbeaten immersive experience.
1. Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Overhead Headphones – Best Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Headphones
The Sony WH-1000XM4 are industry-leading in noise cancellation. These over-ear headphones come equipped with Dual Noise Sensor technology, with two microphones on each earcup to pick up ambient noises and cancel them out. You can control this feature and decide exactly what level of background noise you want to allow through.
On top of this, the frequency range is incredibly high thanks to the 40mm divers built with Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragms. This will allow you to hear an even wider range of sounds than what our previous recommendations can achieve, making for a much more intense ASMR experience.
The closed-back design, while enhancing the noise isolation, does limit the soundstage in comparison to open-backed headphones. Offering 5 hours playback time, although these headphones may not last a full night, they are great if you want powerful audio for shorter periods of time. The new ergonomic design of the padded earcups will provide long-lasting comfort if you do choose to relax with your ASMR audio for a few hours at a time.
- Active noise cancellation
- Dual Noise Sensor Technology
- 40mm Drivers
- Liquid Crystal Polymer diaphragms
- Ergonomic padded earcups
- Closed-back design limits soundstage
- Only 5 hours playback time
2. Sennheiser HD 599 Around-Ear Open Back Headphones – Best Sound Stage Over-ear Headphones
For the audiophiles among you, you will be familiar with the brand Sennheiser, famous for their incredible sound delivery in the headphone world. The HD 599 are one of Sennheisers open-backed designs, which take your audio to new levels of realism you cannot achieve with other headphones offering a more spacious sound stage with impeccable acoustics.
They are larger in size than other headphones but remain incredibly lightweight for an over-ear design. Built with plush velour-covered ear cushions and a comfortably padded headband, you may not wish to sleep in them but you will have no problems listening for hours on end. These headphones are also wired, which will offer stable connectivity, but again may not be ideal for overnight wear.
The drivers are built using aluminum voice coils transducers, which deliver an extremely high definition sound with limited distortion. So you can experience the sound of your favorite ASMRtist the way they wish to be heard. Keep in mind the open-back design is will not reduce background noise like other headphones and may leak more sound, so these are best used in a quiet, undisruptive environment.
- Spacious sound stage offering realistic acoustics
- Velour covered ear cushions
- High definition sound
- Low distortion
- No active noise cancellation
- Increased sound leakage
3. Levin Bluetooth 4.1 Headphones – Best Flat On-Ear Headphones
Now we know these are on-ear headphones but, if you do not like the feel of earbuds, and also dislike the bulkiness of most over-ear headphones then this set from Levin is a good compromise. Lightweight and comfortable, at a budget price you will still receive HiFi stereo quality sound that will deliver your ASMR audio at a tingle generating level.
Rather than a bulky headband, these near-flat on-ear cups are held in place by a thin neckband so light that you may forget it is even there! Thanks to the compact design they are fairly comfortable to sleep in for most wearers, however, they cannot block out ambient noise in the same way an enclosed cup can so keep this in mind.
The ear hook design also keeps the headphone secure, and the neckband is sweat-resistant, which is great for hot and fidgety sleepers. With its improved lithium polymer battery you can also enjoy 12 hours of continuous playback time before you need to recharge, allowing you to listen the whole night through undisrupted.
- Flat on-ear design
- Lightweight and comfortable
- HiFi stereo quality sound
- Good Budget option
- 12 hours playback time
- Cannot block out ambient noise
- Sound quality cannot match over-ear headphones
To Wrap Up
We hope this article has helped you on your way to discovering your perfect pair of ASMR headphones. Remember to consider your personal preferences when making your purchase, are you looking for comfort? High-definition audio? Or maybe active noise cancellation is the dealbreaker for you. Whatever your needs, here is a quick recap of our list of the best headphones for ASMR:
- Best Overall Sleeping Headphone – SleepPhones Wireless Sleep Headphones by AcousticSheep
- Best Budget Sleeping Headphone – Lavince Sleep Headphones
- Best Eye-mask Sleeping Headphone – MUSICOZY 3D Sleep Mask Headphones
- Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds – Panasonic True Wireless Earbuds
- Best Comfort Earbuds – JVC HAA50TB Truly Wireless Earbuds
- Best Noise-Canceling, Over-ear Headphones – Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Overhead Headphones
- Best Sound Stage Over-ear Headphones – Sennheiser HD 599 Around-Ear Open Back Headphones
- Best Flat On-ear Headphones – Levin Bluetooth 4.1 Headphones
Pick your perfect pair, and prepare yourself for hours of relaxing tingles as you experience ASMR as you have never heard it before.