In a binaural recording setup, microphones are placed inside a dummy head and strategically placed to mimic the position of human eardrums.
When recordings that were captured with this setup are played back on headphones, it feels as though the sounds are coming from inside or immediately around the listener’s head. For many listeners, the cognitive dissonance that comes from this experience can cause the tingly or dissociative feeling that we call ASMR. We recently dove deep into this immersive sonic world by recording sounds for our own ASMR sample pack — below, the session’s engineer Max Rewak discusses the recording process and the sounds that were captured.
What was the process of recording this pack like?
This was one of the most unconventional recording sessions I’ve personally ever done, and also the most fun. While working with my cellist friend Vivian on another project, we started talking about ASMR and discussed the possibility of doing a pack focused around it. We built a binaural head ourselves over the summer, and used it to record this pack.
Vivian did a fabulous job with her first experience as an ASMRtist! She was so prepared and creative, bringing tons of different things to record including pop rocks, beads, a grapefruit, knives, spray bottles, and a lot more. It took a little experimentation, but I’m thrilled with the results. This pack was a trip to edit, too. I was sitting at my desk listening to ASMR sounds (so relaxed) for days on end.
What do you hope to show music producers about ASMR sounds?
I hope to show producers that ASMR sounds are fun to create and listen to, and that introducing binaural sounds into their music can imbue their tracks with extra layers of impact and meaning.
Tell us about the sounds in the pack and what was recorded. Do you have a favorite sound in the pack?
The sounds in the pack are all intended to induce autonomous sensory meridian response (better known as ASMR), and were mostly made using household objects and Vivian’s voice. My favorite sound in the pack has to be this one. This came from such a special moment; the really loud pops of the pop rocks sounded so wild that we all absolutely lost it and started laughing. It was also the first time I actually experienced the tingly feeling associated with ASMR.
One important note — make sure you wear headphones when listening to these samples to experience the intended effect. The sounds will not translate nearly as well to speakers, since they’re intended to replicate the psychoacoustic qualities of a human head.
What do you hope producers will create with this pack?
I hope they make relaxing, heartfelt, and dissociative binaural beats that vibe.
What else do you want people to know about this selection of sounds?
ASMR might seem strange to those who are unfamiliar with it, but it can be an amazing tool for relaxation and de-stressing. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, especially if you’re someone like me who struggles with anxiety or depression.
December 4, 2019