A microphone boom arm is the perfect solution for podcasters, streamers, and musicians who need a microphone while sitting at a desk. A good boom arm will get your microphone off the desk surface, keeping it free for other uses. A boom arm also allows you to quickly move your microphone into and out of place.
If you’re looking for the best boom arm for your home studio, we’ve taken care of the research for you. Here’s everything you need to know, including my top recommendations.
Is a Microphone Boom Arm the Right Choice for You?
First, we should probably define our terms. This review is centered on adjustable boom arms designed to be clamped to a desk. Microphone boom arms have multiple points of articulation so they can fold, extend, or spin out of the way, and they clamp to a solid flat surface (usually your desk).
There are boom extensions for conventional microphones, too, but those aren’t what we’re covering here.
So, is this kind of microphone boom arm the right choice for you? If you’re doing a lot of recording while seated in front of a desk, then the answer is likely yes. The only other reasonable choice for a desk-type setup is a desk or desktop stand, which lacks the adjustability of a boom arm.
Of course, if you’re doing anything else — standing, recording in a separate booth, playing an instrument, and so on — you might need another type of microphone stand. If this kind of adjustable boom arm can’t adjust to an appropriate position to accommodate what you want to do, then it isn’t the way to go.
What Are the Other Microphone Stand Types?
The other microphone stand types typically stand on the floor, other than the desk stand, which is designed to sit on your desk surface.
Vocalists typically use a standard vertical microphone stand or an overhead type. Boom stands can extend outward at an angle and can be useful for a variety of instruments (or for reaching a singer’s mouth while that singer is playing guitar).
Overhead stands and studio booms are rarely used in home studios due to their size (and their applications — you’re probably not recording a choir or orchestra in your basement!).
One type to watch out for is the low profile stand. This type might look at first like it could work as a desktop stand, but it’s probably not going to produce the right angle for you. It’s designed more for kick drums and amp cabinets.
So, to recap, if you’re trying to record while sitting at a desk, you almost certainly want an adjustable microphone boom arm or a desktop mic stand.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Microphone Boom Arm
Microphone boom arms aren’t the most complicated piece of studio gear you’ll ever purchase, so it might seem safe to just buy the first one you find on Amazon. But that’s a decision you might regret.
Consider these factors as you shop so you can make sure you get the best boom arm for your specific needs.
Think about what your microphone boom arm exists to do. Its job is to hold up your microphone consistently and reliably, and to swivel out of the way when you need.
This is obvious, but don’t overlook it. How much did you pay for that microphone? $300? More? You don’t want it falling on the floor, or even dropping into your desktop surface.
So prioritize stability and functionality when purchasing a boom arm. Your microphone (and your wallet) will thank you.
Don’t Cheap Out
Related: this isn’t an area to cheap out on. The reliable, name-brand boom arms aren’t outrageously expensive, for starters. And it’s just not worth the risk of going with a no-name brand that might result in your microphone hitting the floor. Saving $30 just isn’t the right move when you think about the cost of your mic.
You also don’t want to be endlessly frustrated as you try to move or adjust the microphone. You want to get one that just works, and that likely means not buying the cheapest option on the internet.
Noise Is a Factor
Unless you want a giant SQUEAK on your track every time you move your microphone, then noise levels matter. All the models specifically reviewed below feature quiet operation with internal springs and potentially more engineering to reduce noise.
The cheap, no-name boom arms? They don’t.
Consider Adjustability and How You’ll Use It
Last, consider how you’re actually going to use your microphone boom arm. Are you a podcaster or streamer who will never move from your standard setup? Or do you foresee needing to regularly adjust or move your setup, such as to accommodate multiple instruments or seating configurations?
You’ll find a spectrum of adjustability among the available options. Some might be better for more stationary use but a little frustrating to reposition. Others might be exceptionally adjustable but struggle to stay put for hours on end. (Obviously, the best option is one that can do both well!)
Invest in a Shock Mount
If you don’t yet have one and your boom arm doesn’t come with one, it’s time to invest in a shock mount.
Most microphones for podcasting are large-diaphragm condenser microphones, and these are particularly susceptible to noise from bonking the microphone stand — which is inevitably going to happen a lot. Placing your microphone into a shock mount is the way to reduce or avoid this problem.
There are some exceptions, microphones that don’t need or can’t fit into a shock mount. One is the excellent Shure SM7B dynamic microphone that’s outrageously popular among podcasters. [[link to last post here]]
But if your microphone can work with a shock mount, you should get one if you’re planning to use a microphone boom arm.
The 6 Best Microphone Boom Arm Options for 2021
As I mentioned earlier, not all boom arms are equal in terms of size, functionality, quality and price. These are the best boom arm options on the market at this time. Let’s start with my personal favorite and the one I use in my own studio, the Gator 3000.
Gator Frameworks Deluxe Desk-Mounted Boom Stand 3000: My Personal Choice and Overall Top Recommendation
In my own home studio, I use the Gator Frameworks 3000 model. It’s my personal choice and overall top recommendation. Here’s why I think this one’s the best microphone boom arm for most home studio setups.
The Gator 3000 features three tension adjustment points and offers a full 360 degrees of rotation. The main articulating arm is spring-loaded so that it can swing back and forth if you have the tension settings right.
With a 17.25-inch upper arm and a 16-inch lower arm, the Gator 3000 offers a total of 32.25 inches of max extension, giving you plenty of versatility in your setup. The spring-loaded tension is rated to hold microphones up to 4.4 pounds, too, which should cover nearly any microphone you’d want to use.
The dual mounting mechanisms allow you to either clamp the boom arm to your desk or mount it to a fixed point. On the other end, the heavy duty threaded mount is perfect for attaching your shock mount or even directly mounting your microphone.
One interesting aspect of the Gator 3000 is the integrated XLR cable that runs inside the steel arms. It’s a nice way of avoiding additional cable clutter, though you’re somewhat out of luck if the cable ever dies.
I like that the three joints on this boom arm are fully tension adjustable. If you’re never going to change your setup, you can tighten these down as tight as possible for a sturdy and stable boom arm. If you need the ability to spin or collapse your microphone boom arm out of the way, you can find a sweet spot with each knob where the microphone sits well in a kind of equilibrium. This can take some fiddling, but it can be done.
Check current prices on Amazon for the Gator Frameworks 3000
Rode PSA 1 Swivel Mount Studio Microphone Boom Arm
Another popular midrange choice, the Rode PSA1 Professional Studio Boom Arm does most of the same stuff as the Gator 3000, though there are some notable differences.
Rode is another well-known brand that stands (deservedly so) on its reputation. This is a capable boom arm that’s unlikely to let you down. It offers between 32 and 33 inches of reach and has three points of adjustable tension, just like the rest.
However, these joints don’t appear to support hand-tightening, which leads to one notable limitation with the Rode PSA1. This boom arm can only support microphones between 1.5 and 2.4 pounds. If your microphone doesn’t fall in that narrow range, the arm may not respond appropriately or stay where you put it.
One advantage of the PSA1 is the dual-axis swivel mount. The microphone mount itself is more adjustable than some arms, allowing you to perfectly position just about any microphone.
There’s an aesthetic difference here, too, with the two exposed rods on the upper arm, reminiscent of spring-loaded office lamps. These don’t make a difference with performance, so it’s somewhat a matter of aesthetic preference.
The PSA1 includes a desk mount clamp and a threaded desk insert, giving you extra flexibility on installation.
Check current prices on Amazon for the Rose PSA 1 Studio Boom Arm
In terms of looks, the Heil PL-2T seems nearly identical to the Rode PSA1. Remove the branding, and you’d have a tough time distinguishing between the two—at least until you examine the microphone mount itself. There, you’ll notice a short extender rather than a dual-axis swivel mount.
There are some other important differences. The Heil PL-2T can support microphones up to 3.5 pounds, and there’s a counterbalance included if you want to use a lighter one. Again, that means that you can’t directly adjust tension, which could be a potential issue.
The PL-2T ships with a standard C-clamp mount, but one perk of Heil mounts is that you can buy adapters for other mounting methods. Heil makes a flush mount, a vertical wall mount, a flange mount, and a 12-inch riser — all available separately.
Check current prices on Amazon for the Heil Sound PL-2T Overhead Broadcast Boom
Gator 4000 Series: An Elevated Experience, Complete with Recording Indicator
The Gator Frameworks 3000 may have won my top overall pick, but the 4000 series is worth mentioning as well. It’s similar in most respects to the 3000 (including dimensions, adjustability, and max weight), but it adds in some nice touches of luxury.
First up is an LED light ring and controller that can indicate when you’re broadcasting. This might seem cheesy for some readers, but if you’re podcasting in a shared space, it could be highly beneficial. Would-be visitors (aka family members or roommates) can know at a glance when you’re live so they can keep their distance.
Gator must have heard people’s concerns about the nonremovable embedded XLR cable, too, because they’ve fixed this in the 4000 series. This arm has an included — but fully removable — 10-foot XLR cable that’s routed into a dedicated cable management channel, not down the middle of the steel tubes themselves.
The last upgrade is a three-inch extension adapter for the boom end. Some larger mics (the Shure SM7B is specifically called out) might struggle to fit on the 3000 series, but this adapter provides the additional room needed.
The 4000 series sells for some $70 more than the 3000. If these upgrades are important to you, it’s well worth the investment.
Check current prices on Amazon for the Gator 4000 Series
Blue Compass Premium: Good Budget Pick (Especially for Blue Microphone Users)
Blue made its name in the at-home market with its lineup of actually decent USB microphones. Many streamers and podcasters start with a Blue microphone because they can connect directly to a computer without the need for an audio interface.
With such a focus on the podcasting and streaming world, it’s not terribly surprising that Blue eventually released a microphone boom arm of their own.
There’s not a ton else to say here. The tube construction is nice and comes close to what more expensive brands are doing. The three friction hinges are hand-tightened, just like the others. There’s hidden cable management and a standard mount, too.
Blue says it’s “designed for Yeti” microphones, but I’m not quite sure what they’re after since there’s nothing proprietary going on here.
One thing to watch out for is microphone weight. This stand is rated for microphones up to 2.4 pounds, much less than some other options. There’s also no fixed mounting, only C-clamp mounting.
All told, if you’re looking for a budget pick, this one’s pretty good. Not amazing, but pretty good.
Check current prices on Amazon for the Blue Compass Premium Tube-Style Broadcast Boom Arm
K&M 23860: A Top Choice Among Professionals
The K&M 23860 microphone desk arm isn’t particularly flashy or glitzy, but it’s a workhorse frequently chosen by professionals.
The K&M 23860 is made of steel, not aluminum, so you know there’s a high degree of durability here. You’ll get a longer maximum extension, at 37 inches, too. The clamping mechanism is more robust than any others reviewed here, adjusting from zero to two inches and capable of clamping on flat or tubular surfaces.
Maximum microphone weight is 3.2 pounds, but the tension joints are adjustable, so you can get the feel just right no matter how large or small your microphone is. This model has an embedded XLR cable, as well.
Given the cost and the relative lack of features, you’re definitely paying for pro-grade construction here. But if that’s what you’re after, the K&M 23860 is another top choice.
Check current prices on Amazon for the K&M 23860 Microphone Desk Arm (black)