Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) recordings (with video or just audio) have become very popular in recent years. These close-up, quiet binaural recordings promise to relax your mind and send shivers down your spine. So what microphones are best for recording ASMR audio? Let’s look at my top 4 recommendations:
- Rode NT1-A (pair): The Rode NT1-A (link to check the price on Amazon) is an absolutely incredible microphone for its price range. A spaced pair of these large diaphragm condensers do an excellent job of creating the clear, accurate stereo image needed for ASMR.
- 3Dio Free Space Pro II Binaural Microphone: The 3Dio Free Space Binaural Microphone (link to check the price on the 3Dio website) is a stereo mic with each of its mic diaphragms located within artificial ears. These ears are positioned as they would typically be naturally, cause the 3Dio Free Space to capture sound very similarly to how we do naturally.
- Zoom H4n Pro: The Zoom H4n (link to check the price on Amazon) is a favourite among professionals and consumers and is a great stereo microphone choice for recording ASMR. The H4n is primarily a recorder that features a stereo pair of mics, meaning that, unlike the other mics on this list, we can record directly within this unit without the need for other equipment.
- Blue Yeti USB: The Blue Yeti (link to check the price on Amazon) is the flagship USB microphone from Blue Designs and is quite possible the most popular USB microphone on the planet. This USB mic has a stereo option which sounds great for ASMR recordings. It’s also a “plug-and-play” microphone, which means we can simply plug it directly into our computer and start recording right away.
Let’s get into the details of each of these microphones in a moment, but first let’s discuss what makes a great ASMR microphone/microphone pair:
Table Of Contents:
- What Makes An Ideal ASMR Microphone Or Mic Pair?
- The Rode NT1-A.
- The 3Dio Free Space Pro II.
- The Zoom H4n Pro.
- The Blue Yeti.
- The Recap.
What Makes An Ideal ASMR Microphone Or Mic Pair?
- Stereo Pickup Pattern: This almost goes without saying. Binaural ASMR recordings are the most popular, so having either one stereo microphone or two “mono” microphones (panned hard left and right) is ideal.
- Sensitivity: Choose a highly sensitive microphone to pick up the many nuances in most AMSR triggers.
- Extended frequency response: Select a microphone that effectively reproduces sound across the spectrum of human hearing (20 Hz – 20,000 Hz). Manipulating this entire range is likely to enhance the listener’s experience.
- Grille/Windscreen: Choosing a microphone with a good grille is a good idea. The grille will reduce the chances of vocal plosives when whispering and even act as a sound source for tapping, rubbing, etc. Purchasing a windscreen gives even more options.
- Shock mount/Isolation: Pick a microphone with good isolation from mechanical noise and hum. Though not crucial, a quiet microphone combined with a decent recording environment can enhance the effect of the ASMR triggers.
Let’s talk briefly about each of the 4 recommended microphones/microphone pairs in terms of the above criteria:
The Rode NT1-A
Marketed as the quietest studio microphone on the market, a pair of Rode NT1-A’s excel in ASMR recordings. These large diaphragm condensers are very sensitive and have negligible self-noise, so it’s no wonder why they are one of the most common choices for ASMR.
Pickup Pattern Of The Rode NT1-A
The Rode NT1-A is a cardioid microphone, meaning that, by default, it’s a mono microphone. A stereo pair of Rode NT1-A’s will yield a binaural recording necessary for ASMR. That being said, we’ll quickly discuss the polar pattern of the NT1-A, which exhibits the following polar pattern diagram:
As we can see above, the NT1-A has a slightly inconsistent cardioid pattern across its frequency response. This is not a huge issue when it comes to recording binaural ASMR audio, since little subtleties and close-miking is the name of the game.
Sensitivity Of The Rode NT1-A
The sensitivity rating of the Rode NT1-A is given as -32 dBV or 25 mV/Pa @ 1 kHz. This is a typical rating for a condenser mic and means that the Rode NT1-A will output a strong mic signal when subjected to sound waves.
This high sensitivity is critical when recording the gentle tapping, scratching, and whispers common in ASMR recordings.
With less reliance on gain from our mic preamps, we can get a cleaner signal from the NT1-A. Less noise in the mic signal arguably means a more enjoyable ASMR experience. Combine this with the NT1-A’s minuscule self-noise rating of 5 dBA, and a clean recording is in order.
For more information on microphone sensitivity, check out my article What Is Microphone Sensitivity? An In-Depth Description.
Frequency Response Of The Rode NT1-A
The frequency response of the Rode NT1-A is listed as 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz. Here is the frequency response graph of the NT1-A:
The relatively flat response of the NT1-A will capture the entire audible frequency spectrum with excellent clarity. Targeting all the frequencies a listener can hear improves the potential response in that listener, and so a flat frequency response like that of the Rode NT1-A is big bonus when choosing an ASMR mic.
For more information on microphone frequency response, check out my article Complete Guide To Microphone Frequency Response (With Mic Examples).
Grille/Windscreen Of The Rode NT1-A
The Rode NT1-A has a metal mesh that encompasses its large side-address condenser diaphragm.
The grille provides decent overload protection from vocal plosives (if you plan on speaking or blowing into the mic). It also provides a nice scratching/tapping surface that’s close (but not too close) to the diaphragm.
The NT1-A grille fits perfectly inside many windscreens and the Rode WS2 windscreen is designed to fit best. Windscreens provides even more protection from the aforementioned plosives while providing another potential sound source for your ASMR recordings.
For more information on microphone grilles, check out my article What Are Microphone Grilles And Why Are They Important?
Shock Mount/Isolation Of The Rode NT1-A
The Rode NT1-A comes with the SM6, its own specially designed cat’s cradle-style shock mount. This shock mount provides the microphone with sufficient mechanical isolation, helping to prevent low-end rumble and other mechanically transmitted noise from affecting the mic diaphragm and mic signal.
Again, the less noise in the microphone signal the better. This is particularly true when considering the quiet nature of ASMR recordings.
The SM6 shock mount also comes with a detachable pop filter. The pop filter helps to further reduce plosives when speaking into the mic. However, it may become an awkward obstacle when recording close to the microphone, and so more often than not, it is omitted.
For more information on microphone shock mounts, check out my article What Is A Microphone Shock Mount And Why Is It Important?
The 3Dio Free Space Pro II
The 3Dio Free Space Pro II is designed to capture binaural audio in the same way that our ears do naturally. This stereo microphone even includes synthetic ears and canals with its integrated DPA 4060 microphone capsules just inside the canals. With the FS Pro II, we may capture ASMR recordings in an extraordinarily accurate fashion for playback in stereo headphones.
The 3Dio Free Space Pro II has an unbalanced 1/8” TRS stereo output and two balanced XLR outputs for its left and right microphones.
Pickup Pattern Of The 3Dio Free Space Pro II
The 3Dio Free Space Pro II is a two channel binaural microphone. Its two microphones (a pair of DPA 4060s) are omnidirectional but each sit just inside each of the synthetic ear canals of the FS Pro II.
Each DPA4060 is omnidirectional and has the following polar response graph:
Having an omni mic in an ear canal yields a pickup pattern nearly identical to that of our own ears. The mics pick up sound from outside the ear with practically no colouration. The DPA 4060s also capture the sound reflections that happen in the ear’s design, which provides extra directionality and realism to the 3 Dio Free Space’s recording.
As for the mechanical sound that resonates within the ear from physical contact with the ear (a common practice among ASMR artists), the mics pick up the character of the sound quite accurately, though much louder in comparison to touching our own ears.
The FS Pro II measures 7.5″ across from ear to ear with the microphones roughly 7″ apart from each other. This near-coincident pair very closeley approximates the human head and our ears’ natural “pickup pattern.”
To read more on mono and stereo microphones, check out my article Do Microphones Output Mono Or Stereo Signals?
Sensitivity Of The 3Dio Free Space Pro II
The sensitivity rating of the 3Dio Free Space Pro II (of the DPA 4060s) is 20 mV/Pa; -34 dB re. 1 V/Pa. This means the output will be strong for a mic signal, especially when recording close to the ears in a quiet environment, as is standard with ASMR recordings.
The DPA 4060s are beautiful little microphones that respond amazingly well to the sound pressure variation around them.
With a signal-to-noise ratio of 71 dB(A) re: 1 kHz at 1 Pa (94 dB SPL) and a self-noise rating of 23 dBA, the 4060s are a tad loud, but make up for it with their pristine accuracy when it comes to reproducing the sound around them.
Frequency Response Of The 3Dio Free Space Pro II
The frequency response of the FS Pro II is due to its internal DPA 4060 microphones, which give it an extended response range across the spectrum of audible frequencies with a soft boost of 3 dB at 8-20 kHz and a harder boost at 12 kHz.
Note that the frequency response of the regular Free Space is only 100 Hz – 10,000 Hz due to the use of Primo EM172 microphone capsules. The Pro II costs quite a bit more than both the Free Space and Free Space XLR due to the integration of the high-end DPA microphones.
The DPA 4060 has a frequency response range of 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz with the following frequency response graph:
The high-end boosts help to add brilliance to the typical ASMR sound palettes, including whispering. The 4060s come with two different grids (miniature microphone grilles) that yield the two above frequency response lines.
However, both boosts may sound overly harsh in close range and when capturing mechanical noise, and so attention must be paid to the upper range. Try cutting this range with EQ before printing your ASMR mix.
The FS Pro II also has a built-in bass roll-off switch beginning at 160 Hz. However, this high-pass filter only applies to the 1/8” TRS output and not to the balanced XLR outputs (which are recommended).
Grille/Windscreen Of The 3Dio Free Space Pro II
The DPA 4060s have their own miniature microphone grilles. These grilles protect the mic capsule and provide the two different upper frequency responses. Chances are though, you won’t be touching these grilles directly.
Tapping and touching the synthetic ears of the FS Pro II may yield interesting ASMR sounds and should be experimented with similarly to how regular mic grilles are experimented with.
Try using earmuffs as windscreens with the 3Dio FS Pro II. 3Dio offers their 3Dio Professional Wind Muffs as the Free Space specific windscreens, but other earmuffs you already have at home may work just fine.
Shock Mount/Isolation Of The 3Dio Free Space Pro II
The Free Space Pro II comes standard with a removable 5/8″ microphone stand adapter installed in the base. The base has a 1/4″-20 female thread mounting hole that can be connected to a hot-shoe adapter or used to mount directly onto a tripod or grip handle.
As for mechanical isolation, the FS Pro is not overly protected, so care must be taken to avoid overly invasive mechanically transmitted noise in the mic signals.
The Zoom H4n Pro
The Zoom H4n Pro is an upgraded and updated version of the discontinued original Zoom H4n.
The H4n Pro is a digital field recorder with a built-in XY stereo pair of microphone capsules. It is a compact, easy-to-use recording device that is common for capturing ASMR audio.
As a stereo microphone pair, the H4n Pro works efficiently to record binaural digital audio in .wav and .mp3 formats with the following bit depths and sample rates:
|Sample rates: 44.1 / 48 / 96 kHz|
Bit depths: 16 / 24-bit
|Sample rates: 48, 56, 64, 80, 96, 112, 128, 160, 192, 224, 256,|
320 kbps, VBR
Bit depths: 44.1 kHz
This little handy recorder proves to be an excellent choice for recording ASMR. Let’s talk about the H4n here in a bit more detail:
Pickup Pattern Of The Zoom H4n Pro
The Zoom H4n Pro has 2 built-in unidirectional (cardioid-type) mic capsules in a coincident XY Pair array. The opening angle between the two mic axes is switchable from 90° – 120°.
So the internal pickup pattern of the H4n Pro provides us with a typical XY stereo pair and each of the capsules has a cardioid-type polar pattern. Zoom does not provide us with a polar pattern graph for its H4n Pro capsules.
That being said, the H4n Pro has two XLR (balanced input) / standard phone (unbalanced input) combo jacks that accept mic or line level. Therefore, any microphone pair can be used along with or without the H4n’s internal mics to capture our ASMR sound.
In fact, a pair of the aforementioned cardioid Rode NT1-A could be used with the H4n acting only as the digital audio recorder. The same is possible for the previously discussed 3Dio Free Space Pro II.
Sensitivity Of The Zoom H4n Pro
The sensitivity rating of the Zoom H4n Pro’s internal mics is -45 dB/1 Pa at 1 kHz. The internal mic preamps offer -16 dB to +51 dB of relatively clean input gain.
The condenser capsule of the H4n are sensitive enough to capture the nuances in an ambient environment and are certainly detailed enough to reproduce the subtleties in an ASMR performance.
Frequency Response Of The Zoom H4n Pro
Like the polar response, Zoom does not explicitly state the H4n Pro’s frequency response. However, it is seemingly 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz with perhaps a bit of extra sensitivity in the upper frequencies.
Again, if you’re unhappy with the internal microphones of the Zoom H4n, you can always utilize other mics, using the H4n simply as a field recorder device. Chances are though, that you’ll be happy with the internal mic performance in ASMR recordings.
Grille/Windscreen Of The Zoom H4n Pro
The built-in mic capsules of the H4n Pro come enclosed in mini interference tube-like housing. The grille and ports surrounding the internal mics protect the mic capsule but do not necessarily provide a great surface for ASMR sounds.
Zoom offers the WSU-1 Universal hairy windscreen for their products. The WSU-1 provides an extra sound surface and protection from wind (in case you decided to record ASMR outside).
Shock Mount/Isolation Of The Zoom H4n Pro
By itself, the Zoom H4n is not isolated nor can it attach to mic stand.
Care should be taken not to induce too much low-end rumble or unwanted mechanical noise since the H4n Pro’s mic capsules are not shock mounted.
The Blue Yeti
The Blue Yeti is perhaps the world’s most popular USB microphone. The simple plug-and-play functionality of the Blue Yeti makes it a common choice for beginners and professionals alike. When it comes to recording ASMR, the Yeti offers a stereo pickup pattern and many accessories to help induce shivers and tingles in the eventual listener.
To record ASMR with the Blue Yeti, the only other piece of equipment you need is a computer with some sort of audio recording software. The Yeti plays nice with both Mac and PC and yields excellent results in ASMR recordings.
The Blue Yeti is powered by the connected computer and sends 16-bit / 48 kHz digital audio.
Pickup Pattern Of The Blue Yeti
The Blue Yeti is designed with 3 Blue-proprietary 14mm condenser capsules. By combining different numbers of these capsules in various polarities, the Yeti is capable of outputting the following polar pattern formats:
For ASMR, we’re concerned with the Stereo output of the Blue Yeti. The stereo pair is made with two coincident cardioid mic capsules positioned in a 90° XY pair.
So by moving a sound source around the grille of the Yeti, the sound source is reproduced in a sympathetic trajectory across the stereo spectrum. This is exactly what we want for ASMR recordings.
Sensitivity Of The Blue Yeti
The sensitivity rating of the Blue Yeti is given as 4.5mV/Pa (1 kHz). This is actually a low rating given that the capsules are pre-polarized condenser-types. However, the microphone’s internal preamp and A-D converter ensure a strong digital audio signal is sent to the connected computer.
The capsules of Yeti themselves are fairly sensitive to the sound pressure variations around them. The Yeti seems to reject distant sounds a bit better than the other mics on this list while remaining sensitive to the up-close sound sources. This yields a cleaner ASMR recording since nearly all the sounds are recorded in very close proximity to the microphone.
Frequency Response Of The Blue Yeti
The frequency response range of the Blue Yeti is given as 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz (the entire range of human hearing) and has the following frequency response graph:
As we can see the stereo pattern response is a bit coloured, but flat within ±2.5 dB from about 80 Hz to 15 kHz. So although this mic is “coloured,” it’s not overly coloured to point that it sound unnatural. Besides, other than the whispering, ASMR sounds typically do not have to be perfectly reproduced to induce their intended results.
Grille/Windscreen Of The Blue Yeti
The Blue Yeti has a beautiful grille for tapping and scratching.
Although Blue Designs has not released a windscreen specifically for the Yeti, because of the mic’s popularity, many other brands have. Experiment with different types of windscreen in your Yeti ASMR recordings to find sounds that work best for you and your audience.
Shock Mount/Isolation Of The Blue Yeti
The Blue Yeti comes with a built in desktop-type stand. However, this doesn’t mechanically isolate the mic capsules from mechanically transmitted noise in the environment.
So there are my top 4 ASMR microphone recommendations. You’ll commonly see and hear these 4 microphones in ASMR videos. Again, they are:
- Rode NT1-A’s (pair): Best studio condenser pair for the price. Offers the greatest flexibility. Affordable option for high-quality ASMR.
- 3Dio Free Space Pro II: Best all-in-one binaural microphone set with artificial ears for realistic ASMR recording.
- Zoom H4n Pro: Excellent stereo microphone/recorder combo for super simple ASMR recordings.
- Blue Yeti: Top USB microphone with stereo option for easy plug-and-play ASMR recording.