Not all of us are lucky enough to have our work or gaming setup in a large room on an enormous desk. Maybe you’re a college student living in a small dorm or apartment. Maybe you’re a dad in a cozy office making do in the small spare room (hey, at least it has a door right?).
But whatever your situation is, you have a small desk, upgrading to a larger one isn’t an option and you can’t afford to add even more clutter to your already small desk with a bulky on-desk microphone stand.
Here are a few options to set up a microphone on your desk without using desk space.
Option 1: Mount a USB Microphone onto a Microphone Arm (Recommended)
This is the setup that I use and is my recommendation for anyone who cares about sound quality, mic mobility, cable management and general ease of use. There’s a reason why almost all Twitch / YouTube streamers use them – it lets them move their hands freely on the desk, keeps the desk free of clutter while also making sure the mic is in the perfect position to capture their voice.
You’ll need two things for this setup…a USB Microphone ($60+) and a Microphone Arm ($15+) bringing the total cost for this setup to around $75+.
USB Microphone with Screw-Off Base
It’s important to get a Mic that has a base which you can remove. These attach to the microphone arm using a threaded input at the bottom of the mic – if the one you choose doesn’t have one then you won’t be able to attach it.
Essentially, you would unscrew the microphone from whatever base or stand that it comes with and then screw it back into the threads provided by the microphone arm (or clip it into the adapter that they all come with).
A microphone arm is a device that clamps on to your desk, allowing you to rotate and extend the position of the mic while keeping the mic itself from taking up desk space. Microphone arms work best with USB mics.
Microphone arms (sometimes referred to as booms) vary in price but you don’t need to break the bank to get a good one. Even one of the most basic arms on Amazon should work for your needs unless your mic is really heavy or you want extra flexibility (swiveling in more directions).
You can find these for as little as $15 and there’s no good reason you need to spend more than $30 unless you’d like something very sturdy, very flexible or a bit more stylish.
Once you have both of these products you’ll just need to screw the mic onto the arm, clamp the arm onto your desk and thread the cable around the arm itself – running the other end of the cable into your computer.
Would a Microphone Floor Stand work?
Another option is to get a floor stand (the stands that you’d see bands using at a show) for your microphone and keep it next to your desk. I don’t really recommend this option unless you already have a floor stand and you really don’t want to make any other purchases.
Most floor stands are designed to be used much higher than a desk which will lead to some weight distribution issues (and falling mics).
They also aren’t designed with USB mics in mind so you’d likely need to get an adapter.
They also just take up more room than a desk-mounted arm.
There’s no real advantage I can see to getting a floor stand for your desk microphone.
Option 2: Buy a Mini USB Microphone (Budget)
Another reasonable route is to get a really small USB microphone and either unplug and store in a drawer when you’re not using or attach it to somewhere discreet on your desk.
USB Mini Collar Microphone
You know those mics that people on TV performing interviews or at the news desk attach to their collar? These are a very reasonable route for someone who doesn’t want to take up any desk real estate. You simply plug it in to USB, clip to your shirt and away you go.
These microphones are generally omnidirectional (meaning they pick up sound from any direction) so if you don’t want to clip it on every time you use it you could just plug it in and attach it somewhere discreet on your desk (perhaps on top of your monitor or on a hutch).
Once you’re done using the mic you can easily unplug it and store it in a drawer near your setup.
Flat USB Conference Microphone
These are basically very flat microphones (they look like little hockey pucks) that collect sound from the room. They’re a fantastic space saving option as they only take up as much horizontal space as a cup of coffee and take up essentially zero vertical space.
You can even get creative with these and mount it on a nearby wall or cabinet vertically using some double sided tape to completely remove it from the surface of your desk.
Other Options for Less Common Situations
Buy a Webcam
This may seem a little bit counter intuitive but it’s actually a decent option even if you don’t actually need a webcam. Modern webcams all actually come with a built in mic and are specifically made to attach very easily on top of monitors. You can get a well reviewed webcam on Amazon for $30+ which will both save you money compared to a USB Microphone / Arm setup and will be a bit more out of the way (no arm to deal with).
That said, the sound quality you’re going to get from a microphone attached to a webcam is going to, inevitably, not be very good. This isn’t something you’d want to do if you’re a streamer, musician, creator, etc…it’s something you might want to consider if you need a microphone simply for calling friends / family, work meetings, or other scenarios where how good your voice sounds really doesn’t matter.
Use a pair of headphones or earbuds with a built-in microphone
You might not realize it but you likely have a pair of old earbuds or headphones that have a microphone built into them. Look through your old box of electronics or in your gym bag…you might be able to salvage a microphone without spending any money and, obviously, a mic that is attached to your headphones aren’t going to take up much space at all.
In Summary (TLDR)
The best way to go about setting up a microphone on a desk with a small amount of space is to get a USB microphone with a mounting arm. It provides the best sound quality, looks cool, swivels and bends to be in the perfect spot before swiveling it away to be completely out of use. It’s not a super cheap setup, costing you around $75+ for a basic setup.
If theres a reason you don’t want to go for the USB mic on the arm then a decent alternative is to get a USB Mini Collar Microphone to attach to your shirt collar when you’re using it or get a Flat USB Conference Microphone to sit flat on your desk (or mounted to the wall/cabinet/hutch next to you). These options will be cheaper ($15 to $25) but will still have cables running around your desk and won’t provide great sound quality.
You can also buy a webcam that comes with a mic ($30+) or use a pair of headphones or earbuds.