Ever since I graduated from college and moved to Los Angeles, I have been contacted by numerous creators who specialize in what I would call therapy sound and music. These creators offer various types of content, such as binaural meditations for healing, calming music therapy for anxiety, and the increasingly popular trend of ASMR.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It is a tingling sensation that starts at the head and travels down the body, providing a peaceful and pleasant experience. Although there is no scientific proof of its existence, it sure has proven to be profitable!
Creators, especially on YouTube, are gaining millions of views by engaging in fairly mundane activities. Some examples include speaking directly into a camera with a highly sensitive microphone, spraying water bottles, or breathing near a sensitive microphone to allow viewers to feel the inhale and exhale, among other things.
Essentially, this type of content serves as a form of meditation performed for an audience, enabling people to relax and fall asleep. The key to achieving good results lies in using a microphone that captures all the subtle details.
Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve used to get great ASMR content for my clients.
7 Most Sensitive Mics for ASMR - My Best Picks!
Table of Contents
- 7 Most Sensitive Mics for ASMR - My Best Picks!
- Choosing the Best Mic for ASMR Content Creation
1. Shure MV88+
The Shure MV88+ is an amazing microphone for ASMR. It comes with a built-in tripod kit and is positioned perfectly for on-camera work.
Many ASMR creators, especially on YouTube, need to be close to both the microphone and the camera, as they want their meditations and performances to be directly aimed at the viewer.
Moreover, the Shure MV88+ works seamlessly with Android smartphones and can be used with the Motiv app, which gives you access to DSP and allows you to control the microphone's mid-side capsule.
The environment you choose for your ASMR performance is crucial in creating a sense of intimacy and closeness with the viewer and listener. Techniques can include whispering, telling sleep-inducing stories, and gently rubbing skin-to-skin or materials.
When I help clients with ASMR performances and recording, I always tell them to find a quiet environment and use high gain on the microphones preamps.
The MV88+ is a stereo microphone that captures a wide and beautiful audio image of your surroundings. It also allows for recording in different mono or figure-8 situations, which is useful for ASMR when you want to capture your voice on one side and fingers, hands, or an object on the other side.
I've used the Shure MV88+ many times and I really like the effects that the MOTIV app offers. It has a cool stereo adjustment function and useful EQ and dynamics controls. The sound quality is impressive and the gain is clean.
The only thing I would say is that when I record ASMR, I prefer to use a sample rate of 96K to capture the smallest details. Unfortunately, this microphone tops out at 48K. It's not a big deal and I can upsample to 96K, but I do wish it had a higher sample rate for a more hi-fi experience in that aspect.
2. Blue Yeti
Lately, Blue has been more focused on being a brand for regular folks and creators, scaling down their studio mics. But I still think the Blue Yeti is one of the best mics out there for podcasting and content creation.
Even though it's a budget mic, Blue's expertise in making capsules and Class A circuitry allows it to capture vocal details beautifully.
The Yeti has a vintage feel that reminds me of RCA mics, and it has an impressive frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. You can't ask for better performance from a mic.
When it comes to ASMR, this is one of the mics I use when a vocalist wants to create an intimate experience, as if they're whispering right into your ear.
I've used the Neumann U87 before, but somehow the Yeti nails the perfect proximity effect. The capsule design minimizes annoying pops that often occur when you breathe too close to the mic, which is a common issue with many condenser mics.
I like that the Yeti doesn't require a windscreen or pop filter. Its threaded mic mount reduces mouth sounds that can be annoying.
The mic also has a well-designed mute button that cuts off the signal, acting as a gate to eliminate unwanted noise when not speaking. This feature is useful for improving ASMR recordings by minimizing the need to remove distracting noises between takes.
The only drawback is that it supports only 16-bit recording, but considering that CDs also used this format and were widely accepted, it is still sufficient.
3. Zoom H5
The Zoom H5 is simply amazing. I love the design of Zoom products. I've written several roundups that include Zoom stuff, and every time I'm like, "Whoa, this thing is incredible!"
Zoom manages to pack in so many knobs, buttons and features into small interfaces without it ever looking crowded or cheap. It's seriously impressive.
The H5 is probably one of the best models yet. I mainly use it for recording nature sounds for sample libraries.
It's also perfect for ASMR, more like a handheld portable recording device rather than a fancy tripod setup.
I use the Zoom H5 to capture various sounds in the room used by the performer. For example, in one session, we rubbed different materials together. This is quite popular in ASMR circles.
I walk around with the Zoom, using brushes and cotton tools to rub various fabrics and capture the sound. The Zoom is excellent at capturing every minute detail up close.
I also love that its resolution goes up to 24 bit 96 kHz.
The fixed XY configuration for this stereo mic is key, making it easy to get that perfect stereo image. The microphone is also great for binaural ASMR work, giving you an up close binaural effect when recorded less than an inch from your mouth.
This device also has XLR and quarter-inch inputs, so you can connect additional mics if desired.
The H5, powered by AA batteries, acts as a mini mixer and a four-track playback system on the go! It's truly outstanding.
The only thing that's not super impressive, but hey, I won't hold it against them, are the built-in effects. They're useful, but not as high-end as some plug-ins out there.
4. Audio-Technica AT2020USB-X
The Audio-Technica AT2020 is an excellent microphone for ASMR and field recording. It supports a sample rate of up to 96K, which is perfect for capturing field sounds or close-up sounds with lots of detail.
Having a sample rate of 96K is very important because it provides more headroom and range before things start clipping.
In ASMR, being up close is crucial for capturing whispers, snaps, rubbing, and other delicate sounds.
That's why having a higher resolution is essential.
One thing I love about this microphone is the convenient built-in headphone jack. Not only does it provide instant monitoring capabilities with zero delay, but it also enhances the overall user experience.
Imagine being able to listen to your recordings in real time, making immediate adjustments, and ensuring optimal sound quality. It truly revolutionizes the way you record!
Additionally, the LED indicators on this microphone are incredibly helpful. They serve as visual cues, providing you with valuable information about its status.
Whether it's indicating that the microphone is powered on or letting you know when it's muted, these indicators are a game-changer. You'll never have to worry about accidentally recording when you intend to mute, thanks to this fantastic feature.
I'm a huge fan of the clean sound quality of Audio-Technica microphones, and this one is one of the cleanest I've ever used. It's my go-to microphone when I want to capture the ambiance of a room without much background noise.
However, keep in mind that the fixed cardioid pattern can pick up too much room sound if you position it too far away, so be cautious.
On the other hand, the microphone's proximity range is not extraordinary. It works best when you're at a moderate distance, like when you're holding multiple objects and can't get very close to the mic but still want to capture what's happening around you.
5. PowerDeWise Lavalier Mic
I understand that some of you may have questions about this brand, especially since the packaging looks somewhat like something you would find in the power tool section of Home Depot. But believe it or not, this is probably the best lavalier microphone for ASMR that I've tried.
One reason for this is the recent upgrade last year. They added shielding to the cord, eliminating RF interference and ensuring flawless audio transfer.
PowerDeWise also provides a windscreen pop filter that rejects vocal wind dynamics and prevents annoying rubbing noise when the microphone is off-axis and touches clothing or the neck.
What impresses me about the PowerDeWise Lav Mic, and why I use it frequently for ASMR, is its wide frequency range despite its small size. It also has a low 74 dB noise level, which is uncommon for lapel microphones.
This microphone is ideal for YouTube content creators who perform ASMR in front of the camera but not too close to it. It ensures a distraction-free experience without the microphone being visible on-screen.
ASMR is all about creating a relaxed audio/visual experience, and anything like visible microphones, bright clothing, room lighting, or other tech gear in the frame can disrupt that. That's why investing in a good lapel microphone is a wise choice.
Plus, this microphone works with Android, GoPro camcorders, tablets, laptops, and more. It also works with iPhones, but you'll need an adapter.
The only thing I have to say about this microphone is that it might not give you the highest quality digital transfer. Therefore, sometimes I connect it to another preamp through the 3.5 mm Jack and then into my DAW at 96K.
It's not a big deal, but if you're looking for a mic system that's ready to go digitally direct into your phone or tablet, this might not be your best bet.
6. Rode NT5
The Rode NT5 is one of my go-to microphones. I've used it for all sorts of things - pianos, acoustic guitars, choirs, you name it. Even interviews and capturing the sound of a room with strings. It's seriously versatile.
Lately, I've been using it for ASMR recordings. Since I have my studio set up with all the fancy preamps and ProTools HD system running at 96K and 192K, I figured why not go all out and use the NT5 for its amazing detail and sound quality?
If you're thinking about getting the NT5, I highly recommend going for the matched pair instead of buying them separately. This is especially important for ASMR because even mics of the same model and build can have slight differences in color and characteristics.
The NT5 is just perfect for stereo setups, capturing the vibe of a room, using it as a mono source, or even using one for vocals and the other for cool stuff like water or rubbing fur against the mic. The possibilities are endless, depending on what your content requires.
The NT5 not only has an awesome signal-to-noise ratio at 78 dB, which means you can crank the preamp without worrying about a ton of self-noise, but it can also handle some serious sound pressure. This is crucial for ASMR, especially when you're up close and personal with the mic.
The NT5 can handle up to 143 dB, so you can go wild with it.
Now, one thing to keep in mind with the NT5 is that it's not like those USB mics that you can just plug and play. Nope, you'll need some extra gear to make it work.
You'll need a preamp, an interface, and a DAW for recording. It's not as straightforward as some other mics, but hey, you get what you pay for.
7. Earthworks ICON
The Earthworks ICON is, hands down, the most ASMR-tailored microphone on this list. It has a small diaphragm condenser capsule, which allows it to reach an impressive 30 kHz frequency response.
This means it captures high-end frequencies beautifully, giving you extra air and clarity, especially on vocals.
Since ASMR often involves whispering, the Earthworks ICON is the perfect choice. It really excels in this area.
Now, let's talk about the Triad Orbit M2 included with this mic. Earthworks absolutely nailed it.
It's a mic adapter with a cool ball-like swivel design. This allows you to place the microphone silently and precisely in tight spaces.
One seriously cool thing about the Earthworks ICON is its outstanding off-axis rejection. This means it blocks out any sound not directly in its cardioid path.
It's super handy when you're working in a room full of people or dealing with background noise like a computer keyboard or an air conditioner.
ASMR vocal work requires capturing the person's presence, often calling for an extremely directional microphone. While stereo mics can sound awesome, they might not accurately capture vocals that well.
That's where the Earthworks ICON comes in with its narrow vocal sweet spot, solving this issue.
And guess what? This microphone even comes with an integrated pop filter, so you don't have to buy a separate one. This filter is designed to minimize pops and reduce sibilance when the mic is close to the source.
Now, one thing to note about the Earthworks ICON is that it doesn't have a low-pass filter switch. Sometimes, it might pick up low frequencies a little too intensely.
I wish they had added this one feature to this almost-perfect mic. I never like to artificially EQ mics if I don't have to.
Choosing the Best Mic for ASMR Content Creation
If you're thinking of getting into ASMR content creation, it's important to know that even though it's not like a traditional live performance, it's still a performance. So, things like: Where you place your microphone, the sample rate you choose, and your overall technique (including how close you are to the mic and how loud or soft you speak), will all affect the quality.
Another thing to think about is whether you want an all-in-one USB setup that's ready to go, or if you want the best microphone and capsule for recording, and you plan to use your own preamp and DAW.
There's no one right answer for everyone, but if you're planning to do ASMR in different places like outdoor nature hikes, different studios, or small rooms, an all-in-one solution might be better.
Now let's check out a few different situations that can help us choose the best mic.
Microphone Systems vs. Standalone
The cool thing about using a USB-ready microphone, like the Blue Yeti or the Audio-Technica AT2020, is that most of the technical stuff is taken care of by the app and the microphone itself.
On the flip side, using more traditional standalone microphones, like the Rode NT5 or the Earthworks ICON, might seem a little more complex, but they also have their own perks.
In the end, it all comes down to how tech-savvy you are as a content creator. If you're also an audio engineer, you might dig using microphones like the ICON or the NT5 in conjunction with your top-notch preamps and audio interfaces for capturing ASMR content.
Whenever I record at my own studio, I use two Manley VoxBoxes linked in stereo as my main recording channel. The Tube sound of these interfaces adds presence and warmth to the already excellent detailed condenser microphones, creating the best of both worlds.
However, when working remotely, I either bring a MOTU M2 interface or use the Zoom H5. In some cases, I directly record onto the Zoom H5's built-in SD card.
I love the freedom that the Zoom brings for capturing unexpected ASMR sources and achieving great recordings.
Handheld vs. Mounted
This can be a challenging aspect of ASMR as it often requires the use of your body. For example, you may need to speak directly into the microphone while using your hands to create different sounds.
If you plan on doing this type of ASMR work, a mounted microphone system like the Shure or the Blue Yeti would be a better choice.
If you rely less on visuals and focus more on audio, the Zoom H5 might be unbeatable because it allows you to position the microphone at unusual angles to capture your ASMR material.
This is especially beneficial if you use water, as it can be difficult to capture this sound with a mounted setup. However, the X/Y microphones on the Zoom H5 make it easy to capture unique angles.
Sample Rate vs. Bit Rate
When it comes to higher sample rates, many people believe it's just snake oil and claim that there is no noticeable difference. However, I can confirm there’s quite a difference, and if given the choice, I would always opt for a sample rate of 96K or higher.
The difference between 24 and 16-bit can be trivial and more forgiving, depending on how something was recorded.
That being said, if you can have the best of both worlds and use a microphone with a resolution of 24bit 96kHZ, then you are probably starting off on the right foot anyway.
Effects vs. No Effects
If you are experienced with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and have numerous plug-ins or audio hardware effects, the built-in effects may not be as significant to you since you can make adjustments during post-production.
However, if you are not as familiar with the technical aspects, complete systems that work with apps, such as the Shure MV88+ and the PowerDeWise, might be a better fit for your needs.
These systems offer decent effects that can suffice until you have a proper mixing session.
Even if you choose the direct-to-USB option for ASMR recordings, compression and limiting are the most crucial effects to apply during post-production. To truly achieve that spine-tingling sensation, it is important to enhance and highlight all the available details!