Best Headphones for ASMR

by wanderingted

and The Greatest Song Team

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Comparison Chart: Best Headphones for ASMR

Sennheiser Momentum 4

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Our Rating: 4.6

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Headphones

Type: ANC, Wireless, Over-ear, Closed-back

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Pros

  • Great Value
  • Best Battery Life of any ANC cans on the market (60 hours)
  • Very good sound and detail resolution for ANC headphones
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Okay noise canceling
  • Needs EQ to achieve a neutral response for ASMR

Shure SRH1840

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Our Rating: 4.9

Shure SRH1840 Headphones

Type: Wired, Over-ear, Open-back

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Pros

  • Best sound on this list, refined micro-detail
  • Fantastic neutral response
  • Substantial soundstage with outstanding stereo imaging
  • Lightweight and comfortable.

Cons

  • Pricey

Grado SR80X

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Our Rating: 4.4

Grado SR80x headphones 1

Type: Wired, On-ear, Open-back

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Pros

  • Great Price
  • Have the detail retrieval of much more expensive cans.
  • Open-back allows for a natural sound and unhindered soundstage

Cons

  • Emphasis on the treble could be fatiguing for longer sessions.

Beyerdynamic DT700 Pro X

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Our Rating: 4.6

Beyerdynamic DT-700 PRO X

Type: Wired, Over-ear, Closed-back

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Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Fantastic, extensive soundstage for closed-back headphones
  • High detail resolution

Cons

  • Rugged aesthetic not to everyone’s taste.

Sony WH-1000XM5

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Our Rating: 4.5

Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Type: ANC, Wireless, Over-ear, Closed-back

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Pros

  • Very good sound for ANC cans
  • The best noise canceling out there
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Needs EQ to achieve a neutral response for ASMR

ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, the phenomenon characterized by tingling sensations and a mild sense of euphoria triggered by specific audio and visual stimuli, is at its most tingly with headphones. You get to experience it all in your own little world.

If the devil is in the details, you want headphones that can deliver those details. 

In this guide, we’ll discuss what to look for and offer our favorite five options after testing. Just as a reminder, we test everything here ourselves to provide these reviews.

What to Look for in Headphones for ASMR

To choose the best headphones for ASMR, consider the following criteria:

Detail Resolution

ASMR works on stimuli from delicate sounds that usually occur in the middle to high-frequency range. 

Common audio triggers in ASMR include: whispering, blowing, scratching, cat purring, humming, clock ticking, water sounds, sticky sounds, chewing, buzzing, crinkling, typing, writing, page-turning, and tapping.  

If your headphones cannot deliver the details of these stimuli, then the entire experience is lost.  

Frequency Response

The frequency response of headphones determines their overall sound signature. For ASMR, ideally, you’re looking for some cans with a neutral response.  

Many headphones boost or attenuate bass and treble to enhance the user experience. A neutral response gives you the best chance of recreating natural sound, which also means that details are not smothered by frequency imbalance.

Impedance

We discuss the subject of impedance in detail here but know this much: in general, the higher the impedance of your headphones, the more power you need from your source. 

We have limited our choices here to lower-impedance headphones that can be driven by battery-powered sources like phones and laptops without the need for an external amplifier.

Comfort

The comfort of headphones can vary greatly, especially when you need to wear them for longer sessions. You want something lightweight, with a good seal for sound, but not too tight.

Open-back or Closed-back

Open-back headphones allow the sound to travel past the earcup, resulting in a more natural resonance. They offer the best soundstage experience and the most natural sound. 

Open-back headphones are best suited to listening at home or in quieter places. The open-back design allows sound in and out. In noisy environments or for applications where you cannot tolerate outside noise, these are not your cans.  

Closed-back headphones do not allow sound to travel beyond the earcup. Because there’s a natural lid on the sound, the closed-back design makes it more difficult for manufacturers to recreate natural sound. Closed-back headphones also typically have a more limited soundstage.

Closed-back headphones block out sound simply because there is stuff between your ear and the outside noise. This passive noise canceling depends mostly upon the seal the earcups make with your head. 

Noise Canceling

Noise-canceling allows for an uninterrupted ASMR experience regardless of the environment. 

While passive noise canceling can be quite effective, if you’re frequently watching ASMR in noisy places, you probably want ANC (active noise canceling).  Active noise cancellation uses microphones to pick up external sounds. These sounds are sent to internal circuitry which generates an ‘anti-noise’ signal.

See here for all of our reviews of headphones and here for reviews and information about audio gear.

Best Value

Sennheiser Momentum 4

our rating

4.6

Type: ANC, Wireless, Over-ear, Closed-back

Bottom Line:

60-hour battery life, good ANC, and fine detail retrieval make these some of the best value headphones out there.

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 are some of our favorite ANC (active noise canceling) headphones, offering some of the best value out there at current sale prices.

Noise Canceling

Noise-canceling allows for an uninterrupted ASMR experience regardless of the environment.

The noise canceling of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 is very good. If you’re looking for the best noise canceling out there, the Sony XM5 and the Apple AirPods Max share this crown currently. Nonetheless, Sennheiser Momentum 4 offer very good noise attenuation, especially in the higher frequencies.

Frequency Response

The overall tuning of the frequency response out of the box is relatively good for ANC cans. That said, they have over-emphasized bass, which is typical of many over-ear consumer headphones on the current market. This is easily fixed with a little EQ tweaking.  

Connecting

They connect using Bluetooth 5.2 and support SBC, AAC, aptX, and hi-res audio with aptX HD, and aptX Adaptive codecs. With an impedance of, these can be used wirelessly with any device you have.

Overall, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck with the Sennheiser Momentum 4. They are very comfortable and deliver an unbeatable 60-hour battery life, good tuning, good noise cancelation, and fine detail retrieval.

Highest detail resolution

Shure SRH1840

our rating

4.9

Type: Wired, Over-ear, Open-back

Bottom Line:

Best detail resolution on this list. Delicate, natural sound.

For bringing out ultra-fine delicate detail, there are few cans out there better than Shure SRH1840. These are Shure’s premier open-back reference headphones, designed for mastering and critical listening. They have an impedance low enough to be driven by most phones and laptops, and the detail retrieval is outstanding.  

They are also some of the most comfortable headphones we have tried (and we’ve tried a lot!).  See here for our full review of the Shure SRH1840.

Soundstage

The imaging of the SRH1840 is perfectly consistent and the soundstage is capacious. Binaural recordings sound indistinguishable from reality on these cans.  

Frequency Response

The overall sound signature of the Shure SRH1840 is as neutral as you can get. As a result, they succeed in delivering an incredibly delicate and natural sound.  

They also can express micro and macro dynamics better than any of the headphones on this list. For ASMR, you can feel the weight of each scratch or tap.  

Impedance

With an impedance of 65Ω, you can match these with most devices you use. For maximum fidelity, connect these through an amplifier or audio interface.

For those who value sound over wireless convenience, the Shure SRH1840 are some of the best you’ll find. They are giving you the best detail retrieval on this list, ample soundstage, and a neutral, natural sound.

Quality Budget Choice

Grado SR80x

our rating

4.4

Type: Wired, On-ear, Open-back

Bottom Line:

With a generous soundstage and detail retrieval above their price point, the Grade SR80x are likely to deliver tingles.

With the Grado SR80x, you’re getting great value open-back, on-ear (Ear pads touch the pinnae, as opposed to over-ear which go around the ear) wired headphones. Handmade in New York, USA, the SR80X sport 44mm dynamic drivers and a hot retro look.

Soundstage

The soundstage of the Grado SR80x is open and generous. The open-back design allows the sound to travel past the ear cup, resulting in a more natural resonance.

Frequency Response

The frequency response is mostly flat with emphasis on the treble around 2 kHz and 4.5 kHz. Although the SR80x don’t adhere to our neutral target, the emphasis on the upper end is not excessive and it will bring out the presence of many ASMR trigger sounds.  

The detail retrieval of the SR80x is very impressive for the price. There’s a lot to like about the sound of these retro gems. For an even tighter budget, consider the Grado SR60x. They are cheaper with less bass response and lower detail resolution.

Impedance

With impedance of 38 Ω, you’ll have no problem pairing these with any battery-powered device or amplifier.

For those on a budget who prefer the natural, open sound of open-back headphones, the SR80x are a great option. You’re getting detail resolution above their price point and generous open soundstage.

Beyerdynamic DT700 Pro X

our rating

4.6

Type: Wired, Over-ear, Closed-back

Bottom Line:

With fantastic soundstage for closed-back headphones and great detail retrieval, these cans are unlikely to disappoint.

With the Beyerdynamic DT700 Pro X headphones, you’re getting some seriously comfortable wired, closed-back cans with a fantastic, extensive soundstage and great detail retrieval.  

The cushy grey velour earcups offer exceptional passive sound isolation, They achieve this isolation with a nice balance of being both tight on the head and very comfortable. 

Soundstage

Unlike most closed-back headphones, the soundstage of the DT700 Pro X is wide and satisfying. The audio takes place in a larger area, which makes it easier to identify separate sound sources.

For an even wider, unleashed soundstage experience, there is an open-back version of these headphones, the DT 900 Pro X.

Frequency Response

The frequency response out of the box is neutral and mostly unaffected, delivering a natural, detailed listen.  

The areas where the response varies from perfectly neutral are around 200 Hz, where the bass attenuates (which doesn’t affect ASMR much), and at 4 kHz there is a sharp dip taking the edge off the high-mids.

Overall, with the DT700 ProX, you’re getting neutral clarity and lots of detail.

Impedance

The Pro X is different than the other Beyerdynamic headphones employing the “Stellar 45” sound transducer which generally makes these cans easier to drive. You get the excitement of pro cans without the need to pair them with pro equipment.

With an impedance of 48 Ohms, you can connect to any device.

I have yet to hear a pair of Beyerdynamic headphones that really stink. These are no exception. Very comfortable and durable, good passive noise isolation, with soundstage and detail to spare. You won’t be disappointed.

Best Noise Canceling

Sony WH-1000XM5

our rating

4.5

Type: ANC, Wireless, Over-ear, Closed-back

Bottom Line:

Some of the most popular over-ear headphones for a reason – best noise canceling out there and very good sound.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 are some of the most popular active noise canceling headphones out there. They offer comfort, the best noise canceling, and good detail retrieval.

Noise Canceling

With noise canceling, you’re getting an uninterrupted ASMR experience. If you are often watching ASMR in noisy environments, the Sony WH-1000XM5 are the cans for you.

Bose has traditionally taken the crown on the best noise cancellation, but with the advances the XM5 has made, this is no longer the case. The Sony WH-1000XM5, along with the AirPods Max, have the best noise canceling on the current market.

Frequency Response

The overall tuning of the frequency response out of the box for the XM5 is not as neutral as we would like for ASMR purposes. They have over-emphasized muddy bass. The sub-bass and bass frequencies are not only overly boosted but they blend into each other, resulting in a muddy bass experience.

The good news is that the XM5 are very much technically capable and responsive to EQ adjustments. With some tweaking, you can quickly clear up the response. (See this post for exact EQ adjustment advice for the Sony XM5.)

After adjusting the EQ, the detail retrieval of these comes out and the world of ASMR sounds real.

Connecting

They connect using Bluetooth 5.2 and support SBC, AAC codecs as well as hi-res audio with LDAC. With an impedance of 48 Ohms, these can be used wirelessly with any device you have.

Overall, there are few owners of the XM5 that regret buying them. With the best noise canceling on the market and very good sound, you are likely to be pleased.

*If you’re on a tighter budget, consider the Sony WH-1000XM4. See here for a direct comparison of the XM4 and XM5.

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