Getting good audio is essential to creating a quality video. The Lark 150 from Hollyland is positioned as a turnkey solution for easily recording two subjects without the need for a tangle of wires. Whether you’re just getting started with video or are looking for a competent wireless option, you’ve got to hear what this piece of kit can do!
In the Box
The system is deceptively simple: a small box that fits comfortably in your hand contains two transmitters, a receiver, and a battery bank, enabling the case to recharge those three units at any time. The case charging mechanism and design can best be thought of like Airpods: the individual unit’s batteries can recharge whenever they’re stored in the case, while the case also serves as a single (USB-C enabled) charging point at the end of the shoot.
All of the pieces are extremely high quality. While the transmitters are plastic, they’re very solidly constructed and are incredibly lightweight. The case features metal plates and rubberized skid surfaces, as well as a very satisfying hinge and magnetic closure setup. Overall, the design aesthetic is tastefully subdued, with only a slightly glossy accent and dark gray logo breaking up the geometric black case.
The receiver features a built-in full-color LCD screen, a combination clip/coldshoe mount, and a pair of gain/mute knobs. These correspond to each TX unit, as well as act as the controls for the receiver's functionality. It’s also got a pair of 3.5mm jacks on the sides. One is output to the camera or recording solution and the other is a headphone output for monitoring.
The TX units are about the same form factor as a Tic Tac box, but manage to fit in an omnidirectional microphone, 3.5mm input, physical mute button, and a belt clip.
Along with the core elements of the TX and RX units, the system also comes with a number of useful accessories. The two most important are the pair of lavalier mics and custom “dead cats” (the little furry windscreens), which are custom-fit to the TX unit’s form factor. The kit also includes a pouch and charging cable.
The Lark system is super flexible. Whether you’re using a single TX unit clipped onto your shirt for a vlog, a pair of lav mics on talent for an interview, or are using the TX units as a wireless connection for a different mic, you can do it all with just what’s included in the box.
Let’s start with the basics: connections and pairing. In this regard, the system couldn’t be simpler. Putting the TX and RX units in the box for the first time syncs them, and they stayed paired throughout the rest of my use. No need to mess with channels or anything else made them incredibly easy to get started using.
The wireless connection itself was rock solid in my testing. In both wide-open spaces and crowded urban environments with plenty of radio frequency pollution, I experienced zero audio issues. The spec sheet claims less than 5 ms latency at 328 feet, as well as smart frequency-hopping. If you’ve had a rough wireless audio experience in the past, give these a try.
All of this ease of use hides what may be the only downside of the system: you’re currently capped at two TX units. While you can run something like a shotgun mic through the TX’s input if you want to capture a wider audio field, you couldn’t wire up three subjects each with lavs for an interview. While this is getting beyond the intended use case, everything worked so well that I’d love to see the ability to expand the kit down the road.
The built-in mic of the TX units sounds good, especially for the form factor, and makes an excellent fall-back option, especially when moving quickly. I preferred the included lav mic, however, as it was just easier to rig up on lighter clothing like a t-shirt. Additionally, the lav seemed a little less susceptible to catching the plosive pops of letters like P, although I suspect better positioning of the TX unit would help. Popping P’s aside, the audio processing was impressive, cutting out virtually all ambient noise and echo, even without the deadcat affixed.
The included lav mic sounds great. Lightweight and very unobtrusive, this seems like the perfect use for the kit. The TX unit was easy to slip into a pocket or clip onto my belt, and in place, it just disappeared. Considering they’re included with the kit at no extra charge, they’re very impressive and ended up being my favorite way to run the mic.
On the receiver side, things are pretty simple. Gain can be controlled with a dedicated rubber knob, while muting can also be triggered from the receiver with just a click. The LCD displays a real-time audio level indicator for each TX unit, as well as serving as a battery readout. Pressing the knob enables switching between the three built-in recording modes. On the receiver, you can choose between stereo and mono mixes from the TX units, as well as a safety track option, which records a second track at -6 dB. The safety track option is nice to have, but I found it unnecessary in my use, as the mics delivered quite consistent volume levels. Once gain was dialed in, I didn’t find that I had to keep adjusting it.
Rigging the receiver to the camera is easy thanks to the cold shoe compatible clip. Fresh out of the box, mine was a very tight fit on my Z 7 but felt much smoother in other cold shoe mounts I had around. I’m not sure if this was a slight tolerance mismatch between my camera and the Lark, but it wasn’t a dealbreaker. I’d love to see a 1/4’’ compatible mount on the receiver as well for even broader compatibility, but again, that may be a more pro-oriented feature.
What I Liked
- Easy to set up and use
- Very reliable connection, even at range
- Good audio quality, particularly when used with lav mics
What I Didn't Like
- Could use additional/alternate mounting options
- TX units could support USB charging or power in
The Lark 150 system is a great fit for two-person interviews, vlogging, and YouTube. The wireless functionality is easy to use and performed flawlessly throughout many scenarios. The form factor is a very interesting approach to wireless audio but could limit this system in more professional applications. Battery life was excellent in my testing, which goes a long way to assuaging some of my worries about the charging design choices. Since it was so natural to store them back in the box, I never found myself running low on charge. Overall, I think the Lark 150 functions perfectly for the intended use cases.
The Lark 150 is available at B&H. At $329, I think it’s a great option. It covers every audio need I’d have for production with plenty of useful accessories, provides excellent audio quality right out of the box, and is very easy to use.
This is a great find. Thanks for sharing. I don't pretend to be an expert in audio engineering however it is important for me to have an easy solution to present in a pinch that doesn't break budgets. More conventional products were always too complicated and extremely expensive though I understand those were designed around a quality-first approach. Thanks, -A https://www.photosophic.com