5 Best Headphones for ASMR [2021]

Recording ASMR triggers (From: Pexels)
Recording ASMR triggers (From: Pexels)

Rating and ranking the best headphones for ASMR that will surely leave no sound behind. Plus, how to choose them!

NameTypeConnectivityImpedancePrice
Sony WH-1000XM4 Best OverallClosed-backWireless47 Ω BUY
Sennheiser HD 599 String Runner-UpOpen-backWired50 Ω BUY
COWIN E7 PRO Budget Pick #1Closed-backWireless32 Ω BUY
GRADO SR80e Budget Pick #2Open-backWired32 Ω BUY
Kokoon Sleep Headphones Best for SleepingClosed-backWireless32 Ω BUY

How to Choose the Best Headphones for ASMR

Out of all the trends we’ve been throwing ourselves into lately, ASMR is perhaps one of the most interesting. The term stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. The term sounds complex and that’s because the science behind the concept itself is not that simple.

ASMR is a sensation triggered by ASMR videos. These videos are simply shots of normal tasks like eating or drawing, but with highly sensitive audio input. The audio is extremely amplified so that people could hear the smallest sounds like chewing or a brush running through the canvas.

There are a lot of things we still don’t know about our brain’s responses and the ASMR phenomenon is another one on that list. But while there is still no concrete explanation behind ASMR, a lot of people have been attesting to its stress-relieving capabilities.

Recording ASMR triggers (From: Pexels)
Recording ASMR triggers (From: Pexels)

Now, it is no secret that ASMR videos are best-enjoyed wearing headphones. In fact, this is almost a law, especially for binaural ASMR videos. Watching one with low-quality headphones is improper while not wearing anything at all is almost sinful. 

Different headphones respond uniquely, especially for different ASMR triggers. For example, crumpling paper has a sharper and high-pitched sound compared to chewing gum, per se. The thing is, if you use substandard headphones, these little details and differences in sounds may not be distinct. These sounds can be easily muffled, thus making the ASMR sensation less effective.

With this guide, however, we’ll show you just what factors you should look for in ASMR headphones. We’ll go over them one by one to give you a crash course on how to choose the best headphones for ASMR.

The detail retrieval

Sound detail is the backbone of ASMR. In fact, details give ASMR videos their identity. Without these minute sounds, you cannot achieve ASMR. It’s that important.

The key here is to look for headphones that are comfortably crisp. This means that the audio must be sharp but should not be too intense since you will be dealing with very sensitive types of sounds. Additionally, you have to make sure that the headphones can emphasize ASMR-inducing consonants like the letters k, p, s, and t.

Sound signature

Sample of a relatively neutral EQ
Sample of a relatively neutral EQ

Sound signature pertains to the unique style of the sound. This is more commonly known as EQ and it refers to how your headphones emphasize different frequencies or aspects of the music.

There are six common sound signatures: Neutral, Bright, Analytical, Warm, Dark, and V-shaped. For ASMR, the Neutral signature is the one you should be looking for. This one has all facets, like bass and treble, elevated but all on the same level. As a result, the sound would be more natural and will be as close to the original sound as possible.

ASMR content creators use hypersensitive microphones that were made to catch the slightest of sounds. Choosing to use any EQ outside Neutral might result in some sounds getting emphasized more and some getting lost.

Closed-back or open-back

Closed-back headphones have a solid outer cover around the speakers. This isolates the sound better because it physically blocks out external sounds. Open-back headphones, on the other hand, have holes on the ear cup covers. Compared to their closed-back counterparts, these headphones let in more air and external sound.

Choosing between these two is a matter of preference. If you want to zone out while watching ASMR, then you should go for the ones with noise isolation. If you want a more natural sound and a wider soundstage, go for the open-back ones.

Comfort

Using headphones to listen to ASMR (From: Snappygoat)
Using headphones to listen to ASMR (From: Snappygoat)

Sleep, gaming, noise-cancelling — no matter the purpose of the headphones, comfort should always be a deciding factor. ASMR headphones are no exception. Discomfort can easily interrupt or prevent you from having a good time watching ASMR videos.

Over-ear and on-ear headphones are easy to wear but can be a little too heavy for some. For ASMR videos, in-ear earbuds for ASMR are more recommended since they are light and easy to use. However, that does not mean that people can’t use headphones anymore.

Some people prefer that added weight and clamping force on their ears, while some just really like how it looks. Others simply do not like the feeling of having anything inside the ear canals.

If you’re one of those, what you should be looking at in terms of comfort are the materials, especially the foam lining. If the ear cups are lined with memory foam, that is a good sign. Apart from that, adjustability features such as expandable headbands should enable you to customize the fit better for a more comfortable use.

Noise cancellation

As we have repeatedly mentioned, ASMR deals with very sensitive and fragile sounds. Unfortunately, the smallest external noise can easily mask these sounds.

Most people think of raising the volume instead to hear the small sounds and block background noise. This is the easiest workaround but it is not recommended. Listening to such a highly-detailed and sharp type of audio loudly for too long can result in hearing damage.

If noise is a big issue for you, using hearing devices with active noise cancellation (ANC) is recommended. These headphones can easily counter noise from outside to let you enjoy every decibel of ASMR.

Impedance

HiFi, not to be confused with high quality or HQ, pertains to how true the sound you’re hearing is or how close it sounds to the original source. For ASMR, this is very important because you want to hear as close to the original as possible for a better feel.

The best and most high-quality headphones with neutral sounds are those that are used in studios. Music producers and sound engineers need that neutrality to remove any form of influence that can affect their output. Unfortunately, these headphones also have high impedance.

Impedance is a technical concept that is very crucial in producing HiFi. It is defined as the measure of the total opposition that a circuit or a part of a circuit presents to an electric current. Basically, the higher the impedance of the headphones, the more power you will need from your audio source to use it.

If your audio source does not meet your headphones’ impedance then you’ll get weak and low fidelity audio. So, the trick here is to get a pair of headphones that can function fully with your device’s power. If not, you would need a headphones amplifier to allow the impedance to match up.

For a more detailed discussion, check out this article on how to pick the best ASMR headphones.

5 Best Headphones for ASMR [2021]

Sony WH-1000XM4

Best Overall
Close look at Sony WH-1000XM4 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Sony WH-1000XM4 (From: Amazon)

Key features:

  • Noise Cancellation: Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
  • Connectivity: Wireless and wired
  • Battery Life: 30-hour battery life
  • Impedance: 47 Ω
  • Sound Profile: flat and detailed sound frequencies with slightly enhanced bass
  • Special Features: Hands-free calling, speak-to-chat, quick attention mode, Alexa-enabled, and wearing detection, Sony Headphones Connect

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is nothing short of a powerhouse in the market and has remained to be the one to beat in numerous categories. It boasts a long list of features and is actually Sony’s recommended headphones for ASMR.

To start off with its plethora of features, we have one of the most sophisticated ANC systems in the world today. This makes the headphones one of the best options for noise cancelling headphones in the market today.

It has two microphones on each ear cup working with the HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 to apply real-time noise cancelling in any environment. With these features combined, users would be able to hear more detailed ASMR without the influence of external sounds.

This has one of the best batteries in the business. It can run for 30 hours with a fast-charging rate of 5 hours playback for a 10-minute charge. This and its high comfortability makes it suitable for hours of ASMR listening. It has soft, pressure-relieving earpads with leather padding that can support hours of watching ASMR videos. Not to mention, it also has 180° swiveling earcups for a better and more comfortable customized fit.

The WH-1000XM4 has a flat and detailed sound frequency with slightly enhanced bass. As we mentioned, having this kind of sound profile is really perfect for ASMR videos. The sounds will be just right and will come as natural and as close to the real thing as possible.

The slightly elevated bass might drown some of the ASMR sounds, but it’s nothing that a couple of tweaks via the Sony Headphones Connect app could solve.

Its impedance is 47 ohms which is enough to be handled by your average smartphone today.

Apart from all the ASMR-friendly features, the headphones are also loaded with nifty features. It has wearing detection, speak-to-chat, and quick attention mode to enable conversation without having to remove the product. It is also Alexa enabled and has hands-free calling.

This really is the ASMR headphones to beat and it works well as an all-around device brilliantly. If you’re looking for the best and you have the budget, there aren’t a lot of reasons not to get this.

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Sennheiser HD 599

Strong Runner-up
Close look at Sennheiser HD 599 (From: Sennheiser)
Close look at Sennheiser HD 599 (From: Sennheiser)

Key features:

  • Noise Cancellation: N/A
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Battery Life: N/A
  • Impedance: 50 Ω
  • Sound Profile: clear, detailed, fairly-balanced sound
  • Special Features: Multiple connectivity options, open-back design, detachable cable

Next up on this list is the Sennheiser HD 599. As the Strongest runner up to the Sony WH-1000XM4, these headphones feature a robust set of features all at a more affordable price.

Sennheiser is one of the powerhouse brands in the audio industry. The HD 599 is one of their open-back headphones, which makes it an obvious choice for those who want a wider soundstage for a more natural ASMR sound. It has a clear, detailed, and fairly-balanced sound that organically elevates even the littlest sounds to a better level.

Perhaps one of its biggest advantages over other headphones is comfort. It features a timeless and lightweight design that is great for long listening hours. If you’re the type to binge on ASMR videos, you wouldn’t need to worry about headphone fatigue with the Sennheiser HD 599.

They’re great but these are wired headphones with an impedance of 50 Ω –– which is, unfortunately, a little too high for standard smartphones. With that, you would need to utilize an amp to fully experience these headphones.

The good thing, though, is that the Sennheiser HD 599 has multiple connectivity options (6.3mm and 3.5mm options). This makes it a good option for multiplatform use. Plus, the most important thing for ASMR headphones is sound quality and the Sennheiser HD 599 has that checked out.

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COWIN E7 PRO

Budget Pick #1
Close loook at COWIN E7 PRO (From: Amazon)
Close loook at COWIN E7 PRO (From: Amazon)

Key features:

  • Noise Cancellation: Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)
  • Connectivity: Wireless and wired
  • Battery Life: 30 hours
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Sound Profile: Warm bass, slightly decreased mids, and crisp highs
  • Special Features: Easy access buttons, Professional protein earpad

For those looking for ASMR headphones but are on a budget, the COWIN E7 PRO is a good option. Despite being the cheapest in this list, these headphones have not compromised the quality and have been well-recommended by avid ASMR enthusiasts.

These closed-back headphones are closer to the Sony WH-1000XM4 than the Sennheiser HD 599 in terms of sound quality. It has a warm bass with slightly decreased mids and crisp highs. It would have been great to have a more neutral sound signature, but this works surprisingly well when used, especially for scratching and crinkling sounds

Another great thing about this is its multiple connectivity options. The headphones can be used both with and without the wire. In addition to that, it can also run with Active Noise Cancellation for 30 hours. This makes them a convenient option for those who love to watch ASMR videos on the go.

Apart from all that, the COWIN E7 PRO also has ergonomic buttons for convenience. Comfort-wise these headphones are not too shabby also since they feature a professional protein earpad. It has a low impedance at 32 Ω, which is good because it can be used with any smartphone.

All in all, this is a safe option for ASMR fans on a budget. Obviously, there are better choices out there in terms of sound quality, but the COWIN E7 PRO is definitely not horrible and is deserving of some recognition.

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GRADO SR80e

Budget Pick #2
Close look at GRADO SR80e (From: GradoLabs)
Close look at GRADO SR80e (From: GradoLabs)

Key features:

  • Noise Cancellation: N/A
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Battery Life: N/A
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Sound Profile: Warm bass, flat mids, detailed and clear highs
  • Special Features: Mini plug termination with a 1/4 inch adapter

Another choice for those looking for ASMR headphones but are on a budget is the GRADO SR80e. It is the second cheapest option here next to the COWIN E7 PRO with only around $20 separating the two. As we mentioned, the COWIN E7 Pro, our other budget pick, has a closer general feel to the closed-back Sony WH-1000XM4. Rightfully so, the GRADO SR80e has a closer feel to the top open-back choice here — the Sennheiser HD 599.

The SR80e has warm bass, flat mids, with detailed and clear highs. Much like the other budget pick in this list, these headphones could use a little more neutrality but still performs well in actuality. For ASMR listeners who want that open-back and a wider sound, this really is the best economically-friendly option.

The earpads swivel for around 90 degrees, but we won’t exactly call it portable. After all, they are wired headphones as well. Fortunately, they do have thick and large foam earpads that bode well for long periods of ASMR listening. The 32 Ω impedance is low and can be fully used in a regular smartphone.

Being a budget pick, you really can’t expect this to compete against the likes of Sony and Sennheiser. Despite that, it has made it to this list because it offers great value for money. All in all, if you are on a budget or are trying out open-back headphones for a change, the GRADO SR80e is a great starting point.

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Kokoon Sleep Headphones

Best for Sleeping
Close look at Kokoon Sleep Headphones (From: Amazon)
Close look at Kokoon Sleep Headphones (From: Amazon)

Key features:

  • Noise Cancellation: Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) + Audio Seal
  • Connectivity: Wireless
  • Battery Life: 12 hours
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Sound Profile: Relatively balanced sound
  • Special Features: Adaptive audio technology, Removable and washable flexmould comfort silicone ear cups Comes with a free sleep mask, Kokoon Relaxation App

Apart from relieving us of stress, ASMR has actually been known also to induce sleep. With that, it is only proper that we also include one of the sleep headphones that can double as ASMR headphones well. For those who use ASMR to help facilitate sleep, the Kokoon Sleep Headphones will be your new best friend.

These headphones were made specifically for sleep and relaxation, and are even our top pick for the best noise cancelling sleep headphones in 2021. With ASMR being related to these two things, it does not come as any surprise why the Kokoon Sleep Headphones has made it to this list.

First off, it has Active Noise Cancellation and Audio Seal to prevent any sound from leaking in or out the earcups. This lets you zone out during your ASMR listening sessions without interruptions. The cherry on top is a free sleep mask that lets you zone out further into your ASMR relaxation time.

It has the intelligent Kokoon Relaxation App that has several programs and sound techniques that will help you sleep and relax. The same app can be used to get into a more ASMR-friendly sound signature. Although, as it is, these headphones have a relatively balanced sound profile already.

In addition to that, the headphones also have an adaptive audio technology that fades your music and slowly introduces white noise as you sleep for better relaxation. Transitioning between ASMR and sleep has never been this smooth.

They are comfortable with the removable and washable flex mould silicone earcups.

However, unlike the other battery-operated options on this list, though, these headphones can only run for 12 hours.

In the end, the good still outweighs the bad of the Kokoon Sleep Headphones. This is one of the smartest headphones we’ve seen and it will really elevate your ASMR experience by a ton. If you have the budget and you think of ASMR as a tool for sleep, then, by all means, get these.

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