Building a successful ASMR channel is not an overnight effort. It takes skill and a good understanding of audio recording to achieve the best results.
That being said let me share with you the good news: you’re about to read the ultimate guide to get you there one solid step at the time. ASMR has taken the world by storm and those of us inside the storm are getting into a worldwide trend at just the right time.
I’ve poured all my sound-related knowledge into this ultimate guide that will hopefully pave the way to make you a successful “ASMRtist” avoiding the pitfalls I went through when I started.
So, how do you start an ASMR channel?
Using the correct microphones and learning about ASMR triggers is the first step to creating amazing ASMR recordings. To start an ASMR channel on YouTube, you should create an online persona. Choose a name and with it create the channel (if it includes the word ASMR much better), a Gmail account, and a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profile.
If you can, use the same name across the board (if it’s not already taken), you’ll have a bigger pull from social media to your channel. Once you are set up, choose the niche you want to work with and upload as many videos as you can. Interact with your audience to create a community and grow your ideas as well as the technical aspect of your videos.
That is the short answer to an extensive topic. Do you really want to know just how deep the rabbit hole really goes? Well, read on, apply, and repeat until you succeed.
What Is ASMR?
Before we get to the technical aspects of ASMR recording, we should start from the very beginning: What is ASMR? Let me tell you how I discovered ASMR by accident.
I was using the metro to commute to work on an early morning just like I’ve done a million times.
It was pouring rain outside. I was banging the metal tip of my umbrella down to the metal floor of the wagon following the drum kick of the music I was listening unconsciously.
In front of me, a girl was sitting and she started to smile. Next thing I knew, she had fallen asleep. Fifteen minutes later it was my stop so I stopped my tapping on the floor and walked to the exit gently waking her in case it was her stop too. She stopped me and said she could never sleep in anything that moves but the repetitive sound I was making helped her relax completely.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you a Kevin-Costner-movie kind of story, she is not my wife today or anything like that.
The story is just to show you real-life ASMR in action. The repetitive tapping of my umbrella released some gratification hormones in the girl and she fell asleep almost instantly.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. This response from our brains can be activated using the right triggers. Not everyone gets the same results; each of us reacts to certain triggers associated with our own history.
The sensation starts in the scalp and then moves to the rest of the body generating a feeling of warmth, protection, and relaxation. In a world like the one we live in today in which stimuli are over flooding our senses, ASMR is an oasis for most people.
ASMR Effects On People (what the scientists say)
Although tests https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6109369/ are still being run to differentiate ASMR from a placebo effect due to the hype surrounding it; there are several studies https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0196645 that compare it to a state of mindfulness or meditation confirming positive changes in heart rate.
These states of total relaxation and/or full focus are the ones that brought ASMR to wide attention in the first place. People around the world use it to be more productive, to have a better night’s sleep, or simply to be more relaxed. It’s not news to anyone the fact that stress and cortisol are causing a lot of health problems around the world.
Although there has been a multiplicity of scientific testing over humans in the last years, science still knows very little about ASMR mechanisms.
In fact, what most of the current tests are trying to prove are the true clinical benefits of it so it can start being prescribed to fight back against stress and stress-related symptoms.
According to Giulia Poerio (Ph.D. and researcher at the Psychology Department of the University of Sheffield) science is studying what most people are already doing: utilizing ASMR to relax.
All current evidence aims at the fact that ASMR is a privileged way of relaxing and helping chronic problems like anxiety, sleeping disorders, and more. Perhaps in some years, you’ll go to the doctor and they will prescribe you a YouTube channel every night? We’ll see about that.
Why Do You Want To Start An ASMR Channel?
Now that we are clear that ASMR recording might even change people’s lives, it is time to address the reason for your decision.
Creating an ASMR channel is not hard at all, but making it successful will require lots of time, effort, and dedication. Besides, it is important that you know about this from the beginning, ASMR is much more about the audio content than the video content.
What does this mean? It simply means that the channel is not going to be as much about you, but mostly about the feelings that you can generate on your listeners.
If you are OK with creating a YouTube persona that isn’t necessarily based on who you are and are willing to paint your talent on this very precise canvas, let me tell you exactly how.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a spotlight, there are many other things you can do to get people’s attention.
Choosing Your ASMR Niche
When you first get into ASMR recording, you’ll realize that (A it is not as simple as it looks) and B there are hundreds of people uploading ASMR content on a daily basis.
Roughly speaking, we can say that the world of ASMR is divided into certain niches or triggers. This means that not all triggers work for all people and by choosing your niche, you are indirectly choosing your audience because they are the ones that will react to that content (or not).
Let’s go through some steps to make this first decision successfully and start on the right foot.
Popular ASMR Topics (Triggers)
The word “topics” could easily be replaced with the word “triggers”.
Each YouTube channel that dedicates its content to ASMR excels at certain triggering methods. This is very important because all the efforts you’ll make in the future (including gear purchases) will be directed to this particular way of triggering the ASMR in your fans. Let’s go through some of the most common trigger scenarios:
ASMR Whisperer Triggers
One of the most recognizable features of most ASMR channels with words is that ASMRtists utilize a very soft tone of voice or whispering.
In fact, most of them whisper so closely to the microphone that you can even hear the clicking sounds of the palate and the tongue in certain words.
To this sensation of closeness, they usually add a chill rhythm that works perfectly to create a sense of wellbeing and relaxation. Controlling your speech tempo is paramount to make your audience feel relaxed by your performance.
Tapping, Scratching & Gliding Triggers
Everyday items can transform into a completely new realm with the right set of microphones and timing. (more on equipment later)
For example, the sound of fingernails tapping on glass or fingertips softly caressing the foam of the windshield can have an utterly relaxing effect. The same thing happens with latex gloves, folding, or even crumpling paper.
The important thing about this topic is to include quotidian elements to the mix and try new things.
ASMR Skin Care & Make-Up Triggers
Many people love the sound and feel of a brush over the skin on their faces.
Although the physical stimulus is not there, the brain creates a soothing effect with the sound. Cotton balls, nail polish, and other common makeup and skincare techniques usually have the same effect.
In this topic, you can include all your self-care elements and try out how they work with your audience.
Eating Triggers And ASMR
For those not familiar with ASMR this might seem a little odd. Yet, most people find eating sounds relaxing (me included).
Eating is a very popular topic with hundreds of thousands of videos uploaded on YouTube. You can do it the fancy way and eat lobster on the microphone but most people just go with whatever is inside their fridge and get great results!
What’s important is to trigger people’s ASMR, not showing how fancy your diet is.
Quotidian Situations Roleplay
There are everyday situations that can trigger ASMR on people.
Uploading an ASMR recording of something as nimble as a visit to the barbershop can be an excellent trigger. Other ASMRtists go for something a little more complex and unique like a massage session or a visit to the SPA.
Whichever quotidian situation roleplay you choose, it is important that you go through each step carefully and make people feel they are actually there.
Let Your Uniqueness Shine Through
Once you’ve chosen your topic, you can go through some of the videos in it with the most views.
At first, I wouldn’t recommend you try something drastically new but try to walk on a proven path. This will bring some attention from people who are already in the niche and who might start liking your content.
It is about them “finding” your content and channel; if you work on an unknown topic, your potential audience might never find you.
Here’s where the tricky part comes along: no matter how hard you try, your uniqueness will come up.
You might try to imitate your favorite ASMRtist but in the end, it will always be your version of it. Embrace this fact and try to find you in that niche; what you can bring to the viewer’s nobody else can.
When people connect with you and your personality they will choose you and your content above the rest. Let them come for more!
The Technical Side Of Creating ASMR Recordings
ASMR recording is an art form and as such, it requires a technical side to create the works of art.
The technical side shouldn’t cloud the emotional side, or the inspiration and that is exactly why I am going to clear all your doubts (or at least try to) and give you several options for starting budgets.
What Equipment Do You Need To Start Recording ASMR
Check out this ASMR channel with 2.5 Million Subscribers.
Let’s take some advice from this channel owner.
“If you have a working microphone on your headphones then go ahead and use it.” So, taking her word for it (and her 2.4 million subscribers), we can say that as long as you have a camera and a microphone you can get started right now; after you finish reading this article, of course.
ASMR recording is all about imagination, passion, and experience but good equipment can take your talents to the next level.
To say it in an analogy: state of the art technology is a great color palette and many brushes but without passion, imagination, and soul it is just inert. Ideas are way more important than equipment; if you join both, the results will be truly amazing.
Choosing A Microphone For ASMR Recording
After saying the above statement, it is important that we talk about which are the best options when you decide to buy a microphone.
You are going to crank up this microphone up a lot so it can pick up all the nuances of your speech or sound source.
Bear this in mind at all times. Actually, as you’ll see in most ASMR channels, having two microphones is always much better because you can make the most out of the stereo panning of headphones to create a close-to 3D effect.
Let’s go through some clarification about what to look for in an ASMR microphone, and then some good options.
Condenser vs Dynamic Microphones For Recording ASMR Audio
The world of ASMR recording is mostly dominated by condenser microphones.
These are the types of microphones that will give you the most warmth and definition. The way condenser microphones are manufactured makes them more sensitive and hence better for the kind of audio ASMRtist to look for. That being said, let’s visit some case scenarios in which you might prefer a dynamic microphone.
· You live in a very noisy place – For the ASMR trigger to be effective, you need to create a safe world inside your viewer’s heads. They need to feel relaxed with the videos you upload and, in some way, connected with you. Cranking up the volume on a condenser microphone will amplify all sounds including unwanted noises. Many people do their recordings at night when it’s very calm but if you can’t help those noises at any time of the day, then a less sensitive microphone can do the trick for you. In general dynamic microphones are less sensitive. The most popular dynamic microphone in the world is the Shure SM-58 Check it out here on Amazon
· You have a very low-frequency oriented tone of voice – While this is definitely a plus when it comes to ASMR recordings, too much low end can turn into a muddy recording that won’t speak to your viewers. In this case, a dynamic microphone can do wonders for you.
In all other case scenarios, a condenser microphone is always much better to get the results you want.
One of the best condenser microphones to start with is the Audio Technica AT-2020.
I personally own one of these microphones and can tell you first hand it would be an excellent choice for ASMR recording. It is getting amazing comments on all the Facebook groups I’m a member of too.
Integrated Recorder Or Audio Interface For ASMR Recording?
In the world of ASMR recording, many people start using integrated digital recorders rather than audio interfaces.
The reason is very simple: you don’t need a computer or any audio knowledge to be able to record great ASMR with them. For example recorders like the ZOOM H1n will not break your bank and will give you a professional sound.
On the other hand, audio interfaces are the ultimate home recording tool that opens the door to a whole new world of audio processing.
With a simple computer and an audio interface, you can create a billboard chart-topping hit (here’s a cool video on how that is done).
If you want to eventually make it to the big leagues, you are going to have to spend some bucks on an audio interface. The best way to start would be with a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2. This has 2 inputs so you can create 3D like audio using 2 microphones.
- I have written a complete beginner’s guide on getting started with an audio interface. You can read it here.
To begin your journey an integrated recorder is a great option to start with check out this Tascam integrated audio interface product and ZOOM field recorder that has all the features you need to trigger ASMR in your audience.
This option to get started is by far the easiest as It doesn’t require a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) or an external audio interface.
Pictured below is the amazing Scarlett 2i2 audio interface. Check it out here on Amazon
Best Microphone Placement For Recording ASMR
Microphone placement is paramount for the resulting sound. Let’s take a look at some pro tips to do it right from the start.
· Trial and error – The first thing you need to do is to move the microphone around the room until you find the “sweet spot”. Bigger rooms usually have natural reverb and it fluctuates depending on your position. Try everywhere you can put your microphone(s) until it sounds right.
· Mark the spot – Once you’ve found the spot that sounds the best, mark it on the floor (you can use tape to avoid being kicked out of your house). This will give you consistency in terms of sound and also minimize your time mixing because all equalizers will need is just a little touch and you won’t be starting from scratch every time.
· Stay away from static – Most electronic equipment will give you some kind of static that might translate into noise. To avoid this, stay away from big electronic equipment such as screens, computers and such.
ASMR recording does benefit from audio reflections but not from all of them.
Some audio reflections are welcome but when they start crashing into each other the reverb will drive you mad at the mix and you can kiss goodbye to triggering ASMR on anyone.
In order to avoid audio reflections when recording ASMR, you need to stay away from walls as much as you can.
You can even build for yourself some acoustic panels that will help you tame the rebound effect. Again, this is a trial and error area but with time you can get a very clean recording.
Take a look at this video on exactly how to do this.
Plosives aren’t entirely bad when we set out to do ASMR recordings.
Sure, they can be disturbing when too powerful or too often, but can also give the listener a sensation of being very close to the person speaking.
For example, this video with almost two million views (yes, two million) has a lot of plosives in it but they sound musical in her voice.
For plosives attenuation I have two techniques to share with you:
· Work with filters – Pop filters and windshields are your best friends. They will help you enormously to get rid of plosives. If you still have too many (and you don’t do live video recording) try taping a pencil to the pop filter so it will divide your plosives in two before they hit the microphone. That’s a top tip btw!
· Work with the volume – If you have a DAW installed in your computer you can cut the waveform and reduce the volume of the plosives to make them less noticeable. Also, you can work them from the EQ cutting the frequency to make it less (ex)plosive.
I have written an article on pop filters and how to get the most out of them. You can find the article here.
DAW For After Touches
ASMR recording is not about perfection, but it is about harmony.
If you are a studio engineer like me with some background in music production, this will be a very easy endeavor. In a regular recording, you can use 40, 50 tracks up to 200 on special occasions. When recording ASMRtists, you work with two sound sources at the most.
This is why the Scarlett 2i2 is the perfect audio interface to get your new recordings onto your computer and create a professional audio track.
That being said, the core of the work with a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) platform for ASMR videos is definitely perfecting the frequencies and removing any annoying noises or disturbances.
ASMR is like being in a state of trance and therefore a single unwanted noise can break it and all the effort to bring people into it is flushed down the toilet.
Use a DAW like Audacity, Cubase, Pro Tools, Nuendo, Reaper, Reason, Ableton, or even GarageBand for the final touches on the audio. Little details make a world of difference and can be the reason your viewers keep coming back.
Audacity is completely free to use. You can download it here and it works very well.
Here’s a video that shows you how to get set up with the free Audacity software. It really is all you need for this ASMR editing.
ASMR Microphone Recommendations
I would say that microphones in this case are divided into three categories. Let´s take a look at them:
This is, perhaps, the easiest way to get started.
Handheld recorders such as Zoom H1n come equipped with dual condenser microphones. They record HD audio and save it to a memory card. You can then input that audio source to your computer or phone’s DAW and play with it as much as you like.
The noise level is very low (to reduce it even further, use it with batteries) and the quality of the audio is very decent. Another option is the Tascam DR-07X Stereo which is very similar at the same price.
Some models like the Q line in Zoom also come equipped with a good camera. If you can get a clean take, there’s no need for any further processing.
Condenser/Dynamic ASMR Microphones
We have already addressed the role of condenser and dynamic microphones above.
Unless you can buy a USB condenser with an integrated DAC (Digital Audio Converter), you will also need an audio interface to plug it to your computer.
The benefit of a condenser/dynamic microphone + audio interface + DAW is that it gives you surgical precision to process the audio to your liking achieving amazing results in less time.
You may be wondering at this stage if an audio interface will make much difference.
I have written an article to answer that question. You can read it here.
The one thing that makes the world of difference within ASMR-specific microphones is the pattern.
What is a pattern? Well, it is the shape in which a microphone captures the sound.
A directional microphone captures one source. A bi-directional microphone captures two sources simultaneously and an Omni directional microphone captures the entire 360-degree spectrum.
Let’s choose one of each:
Directional ASMR Microphones
The Blue Snowball iCE is, perhaps, the best directional microphone to get started with. It is relatively inexpensive and is USB so you don’t need an audio interface. Self-noise is rather low and the audio quality is very good. On a side note, I think it looks very cool too. The stand is included as well.
Omnidirectional ASMR Microphones
When it first came out the Blue Yeti was the benchmark, the industry-standard by which all the rest was judged.
Time has passed and it lost its throne, but it makes an amazing option still. This omnidirectional, USB condenser micophone features a 100dB self-noise ratio which is very acceptable to work with. You can do all kinds of ASMR recordings in any of the topics above with it. Consider it an amazing first step in the ASMR world.
One other thing to take into consideration is microphone self-noise. Check out my article on this topic here.
Bi-Directional ASMR Microphones
The choice in this category for me is the 3diosound 3Dio FS
There are many ways to do with software what this microphone was manufactured to do but few things look and sound this good for ASMR.
This is a higher quality option, but the self-noise ratio is at 80dB and the precision for capturing binaural sounds is amazing. The low-frequency roll-off will help keep plosives and excess of proximity away while keeping high frequencies crisp and clear.
- This is, without doubt, the best option for pure ASMR recordings, and the ultimate quality for serious recordings.
How To Get It Done With A DAW
If you have the ability to use a DAW, the way to get it done is to follow these simple steps.
· Pan your sounds – Checking videos like this you can tell that much of the stereo binaural effect is done by using two microphones and hard-panning one to each side. You can do it in real-time with a two-input audio interface such as the incredible Scarlett 2i2 if you are doing live video capture. If you are not you can just pan your one audio track to each side when the time comes creating a very similar effect.
Take a look at this video example
· EQ – Equalize your audio with a parametric equalizer and find the frequencies you want to kill. I wouldn’t recommend you to boost anything since the gain of the microphone has to be set really high to get the nuances. Boosting frequencies on a microphone that is cranked up can lead you to unwanted noises because of clipping.
· Compression – Watch out with compression. Compressing adds thickness to the sound but if it is already cranked it can come out as nasal and kill the relaxing aspect of your whispering. One more thing: never compress before the equalizer.
Building An ASMR Community Takes Time
ASMR recording is the technical aspect of your channel; the other part is building a community of like-minded people to support your work.
In this sense, you have to be able to go through the initial frustration. Building a community takes time. This is regardless of your talent and equipment; it takes time and a lot of videos to make people notice you or even find out you exist. Don’t lose faith in what you do; keep going until you find the way that works.
Appreciate and embrace your audience.
After saying that you should always trust yourself in terms of building a community, it doesn’t happen magically. There are no secret recipes or Hogwarts spells to do it, just consistency and hard work.
· Go through all messages – Always, in all your videos go through all the messages and answer them individually. If someone takes the time to comment on your work, you should at least take the time to answer them.
· Incorporate suggestions – Many people, even some other ASMRtists will let you know what they think about your content. Incorporate the suggestions you think are worth trying.
· Interact personally – If you can’t reach all comments, leave them blank to respond later but generic responses will really put your audience off. Always be personal, be yourself through words as well; let your personality shine through.
Ignoring haters is the right way!
ASMR recording is not a small world at the moment and hence there are many haters and trolls who want to bring new users (especially if they are good) down.
Ignoring their comments is the right way to deal with them. As soon as they notice that you will not engage in a discussion or a fight with them, they will take all their hatred somewhere else.
Great ASMR Channels To Subscribe To
As in any other discipline in the world, when you enter the ASMR recording world you need to have some role models to look at. Here are some examples.
· SAS-ASMR – This channel specializes in food and has gathered 8.72M subscribers to date.
Check it out here.
· ASMR Darling – This channel is run by Taylor Darling who specializes in sleep-inducing ASMR and put together a community of 2.49M subscribers to date.
Take a look at this channel here.
· Gibi ASMR – This channel is run by a YouTuber who started using ASMR to correct her own sleeping issues. She has put together 2.64M subscribers to date.
Check out this channel here.
· PPOMO – This is a channel by a Korean ASMRtist who specializes in relaxing roleplays and built a following of 2.2M subscribers.
Take a look at an example video here.
Final ASMR Words – Stop Thinking, Start Acting!
ASMR recording is not something that will require you to study sound engineering or to have a fancy, huge, expensive studio. Rarely any instruments are used and all you really need to get started is a microphone and a camera, both of which can be found on your cellphone.
The road to being a big channel and changing people’s lives for the better through your content with a massive following is long and uncertain. Time will tell if ASMR is something you will enjoy creating and uploading.
Stop thinking about it and go create your first video, maybe next time I can fall asleep listening to your gentle voice whispering in my ears.
Happy (close, calm, relaxed, whispered) recording.