So, you’ve been watching videos of people tapping on ordinary objects and whispering roleplays to help others fall asleep and you want to try your hand at it. Welcome to the world of ASMR YouTube.

What is ASMR?

ASMR stands for ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.’ That is a long way of describing the tingling sensation some people experience — typically on the top of their head or down their spine — in response to certain visual or auditory stimuli.

Typical triggers include:

  • Soft-spoken voices
  • Gentle tapping on any number of objects
  • Lightly playing with crinkly plastic packaging
  • Softly brushing the microphone
  • Personal attention roleplay

What makes ASMR videos so valuable to viewers?

The exact items and scenarios used in creating these videos vary since each artist experiments with new sounds and roleplay plotlines. What may stimulate ASMR in one viewer might not work on another. Still, those who experience these elusive tingles find it profoundly relaxing, calming the nerves at the end of a stressful day.

The most successful ASMR channels understand this. They know that the purpose of their craft is to help others. They aim to provide a comforting, almost tranquilizing space for people who struggle to fall asleep at night, those who suffer from anxiety and anyone dealing with mental burnout. A quick look into the comment section of any popular ASMR video will yield hundreds of stories from folks who find much-needed relief from the outside world. And it’s thanks to the ASMRtists, as they’re called.

YouTube’s algorithm likes ASMR videos

ASMR roleplay is popular in the ASMR genre. Image courtesy: Ephemeral Rift

Algorithmically, YouTube favors videos that garner long sessions of watch time. The videos get bonus points if they have great retention time (i.e., how many people stay to watch the whole video.) ASMR videos are unintentionally perfect for this. You’ll often find uploads that are 45 minutes or longer — sometimes much longer. They rack up watch time because, ideally, the audience has fallen asleep after only a couple of minutes. The video continues to play in the background as they drift off to dreamland. But YouTube doesn’t know that. All the algorithm sees is that someone presumably watched a very long video to the end, so it must be great.

However, people who experience ASMR can typically only watch a given video a limited number of times. After a while, the sounds in that video triggering their tingly sensations become too predictable. They can lose their effectiveness. So, YouTube will always need new ASMRtists who experiment with new sounds and visuals, and that can be you.

What do you need to start an ASMR channel?

If you pair this knowledge with some essential tools and best practices, you can have your own ASMR YouTube channel up and running in no time.

You don’t need to most expensive equipment

Now, you might think the barrier that’s preventing you from starting your ASMR channel is the need for high-quality recording equipment. ASMR can be both visual and auditory, so having premium microphones that capture flawless audio and an expensive camera to record crispy video feels like it’s a necessity, right?

Not true; ASMR is not about capturing perfect, high-quality sounds or visuals. In fact, an entire sub-genre of ASMR is dedicated explicitly to lo-fi recordings — intentionally creating videos with low-fidelity microphones and grainy, built-in laptop webcams. In this way, the barrier to entry for creating your first ASMR videos is practically nonexistent. If you can make a video of any kind, you can make an ASMR video, and someone will love it.

If you are willing to spend some money to make your videos, focus on audio gear first, then visuals second. That’s true for any video, but especially in ASMR.

You need a quiet room

Since ASMR is about gentle sounds, try to record in a quiet room. If you live with other people, it might be best to record late at night or very early in the morning. This way, you can avoid picking up unwanted sounds of other people living their lives.

Get a sensitive microphone for your YouTube ASMR videos

Sensitive mics are key in ASMR. Image courtesy: Gentle Whispering ASMR

Look for ASMR microphones that are extremely sensitive and have low self-noise. Self-noise is the noise the microphone makes and picks up just by operating. It will often sound like a hiss or a hum, which honestly wouldn’t be the worst thing for people who like ASMR videos to have a little white noise. Still, it’s best to capture clean audio first and then decide whether or not to add gentle white noise in the background later.

Condenser microphones are typically better for ASMR than dynamic microphones as condensers mics can pick up more detailed sound and are more sensitive than dynamic mics. Dynamic microphones usually reject noise from anything not directly in front of them, which is not always ideal for ASMR.

Stereophonic sound is a must

You see, many people who experience ASMR love stereophonic sounds. With headphones on, it’s a magical experience — like you’re in the room with someone whispering into your left ear while tapping on a plastic lid in your right ear.

Some ASMRtists capture this with two separate microphones placed to the left and right of the camera to create that stereophonic sound. But if you’re on a budget and can only afford one microphone, grab one that can record a wide angle of sounds around the mic.

What mic is most commonly used for YouTube ASMR?

The king of ASMR YouTube microphones is undoubtedly the Blue Yeti. It’s a USB microphone that plugs straight into your computer and has modes to capture stereo or omnidirectional recordings so you can create sounds all around the microphone. Just make sure you record and export your video in stereo, not mono.

Good lighting can help your video’s visual quality

If you want to focus on visual quality next, aim for good lighting instead before buying an expensive camera. Even the best cameras can record bad video if the lighting is terrible. An inexpensive ring light is a standard option for framing your face in a soft, flattering light. There are also plenty of cheap LED light panels on the market for basic lighting, but if you want to add some fun, check out Aputure’s MC LED light. They have full-color RBG lighting to add pops of vibrant hues to your setup. They even have built-in effects like mimicking the gentle orange flickering of a warm fireplace. These lights inspire endless creativity for your ASMR videos!

What kind of ASMR videos should you make?

Object tapping is typically a favorite of ASMR viewers. Image courtesy: Gibi ASMR

But once you have your lights, camera and audio equipment set up, what do you do next? What kind of ASMR videos are you going to produce? We think that entirely depends on your interests, your comfort level and what your audience responds to best. If you like tapping on books, tap on books. On the chance you aren’t comfortable talking on camera, you don’t have to do soft-spoken roleplays. If your audience loved the mouth sounds from you eating a bunch of sushi, then you now have a great excuse to order more sushi. Lucky you.

Avoid adding mid-roll ads to your videos

On the note of listening to your audience, there’s one last thing to keep in mind. Even though the YouTube algorithm might favor long ASMR videos, and any video over eight minutes has the option to have midroll ads placed on them, please don’t use midroll ads. The last thing someone needs as they drift off to sleep is to have their slumber violently interrupted by a loud YouTube midroll ad. That is the fastest way to annoy your audience and make them abandon your channel.

Let the purpose of your craft light the way forward

Remember, the most successful ASMR channels understand that the purpose of their craft is to help others. As a result, there’s a sincerity to ASMR that isn’t found everywhere on YouTube. It’s a place of creativity and genuine kindness that makes a tangible positive difference in people’s lives every day.

Experiment a little. Play around in the space. It often turns out that the most random objects or outlandish roleplay scenarios paired with the right artist can make a treasured ASMR video that will calm the minds of millions who need it.