Hollyland is back with a whole new entry into its lineup of wireless lav mic kits, and this one comes out swinging against some of the better affordable kits out there. It is the new Hollyland Lark Max Duo Wireless, a dual lav Kit that perfectly targets those not looking to spend the kind of price that large-name manufacturers ask for. Not only that, but it comes with an added sense of user-friendliness that allows anyone to make use of them.
That last part is one of the biggest variables driving these kits within the consumer and prosumer markets. So many companies have come out of the woodwork to challenge the big-name companies (like Rode, Sennheiser, Sony, etc). Focusing on mic solutions that do not require a professional to make use of. No switching between frequencies, or special filters. Instead, simple features like noise cancelation, mute options, and stereo vs mono. All while working right out of the box.
Hollyland has absolutely made a name for itself as one of these companies looking to take on the industry with powerful solutions that don’t break the bank. This is one of those.
The Lark Max Duo offers a kit that contains a single stereo (dual-channel) receiver and two transmitters. Along with this comes a number of cables to make sure the kit will work with most devices right away, and also includes a charging case that fits the three devices inside and keeps their batteries topped off. As well as a travel case that carries that charging case and everything else (cables, windscreens).
Included are some easy to read instructions that help introduce you to the options of the microphone and its specifications. It doesn’t take long to read these and get acquainted with how everything works.
Both transmitters and the receiver feature one of the most robust designs we have seen from Hollyland. This includes the use of aluminum in place of plastic and a nice grippy texture to help make sure you never lose hold of something.
This should mean that they will last a whole lot longer through the years compared to some of the cheaper built alternatives.
The transmitters feature a built-in microphone covered by a durable mesh grill. This microphone is located at the top of each unit and features an omnidirectional pickup pattern. Which means the transmitters themselves, are the microphone, An all-in-one solution that you simply pop out of the charging case and clip to someone.
As soon as you remove them from the charging case, they turn on and link to the receiver (once it too is out of the case).
There is nothing new here as companies have been dishing these out for a few years now. However, not all of them sound as good as these. Some come out a bit crisp but lacking body, while others may sound a little muddy at the top. The Lark Max sounds like exactly what you’d want to compete against these bigger brands with.
These offer quite the range (distance) between them and the receiver (up to 820 feet!), and they come with magnet so you can attach them to clothing without having to use the clip. Since not all articles of clothing are clip friendly.
The receiver is an upgraded version of the Lark 150, featuring a larger AMOLED screen that features touch control. There is a familiar dial to the left that also pushes in as a menu/select button, and a touch-sensitive button to the right, marked with a circle (home button).
Everything in between displays the current status of both microphones, as well as the receiver. Showing you mic levels, quality of connection, battery life, and current record mode (mono, stereo, or safety track). This is the home screen, which is the destination the right button leads you back toward if you are in any of the menus.
That home button also pops up a quick menu if you hit it while already being on the home screen. This menu allows you to control feature of each mic between two pages. Allowing you to enable noise cancelation, mute, or internal record.
Hitting the home button will (again) bring you back to the home screen.
Pushing the menu button/dial will bring the main menu up. Giving way to REC Mode, Mic Settings, Phone Speaker, EQ (Hi-Fi, Low Cut, Vocal Boost), and System Settings. Making for a simple menu to browse through. Each has its own sub-menu you can access by using the dial to choose the option and push it in to select it.
As for the record modes, you have the before-mentioned mono, stereo, and safety track. Selecting mono will result in both microphones hitting both channels (L/R). Selecting stereo will seperate one mic into the left channel, and the other into the right. This makes it easy to edit in post if you have two people speaking at two different levels. Then the this option, safety track, is a stereo mode that also records internally so you have a backup audio track in case whatever you are sending audio to fails to capture audio properly.
Some of these features between the quick and main menus can be adjusted from the transmitters (microphones) as well. This includes the ability to mute, enable ENC (environmental noise canceling). and enable internal recording. These features are also enabled in the receiver in case you forget to set these options before you start shooting or you decide to change your mind on something (or if you simply prefer doing it from there).
The touchscreen is sensitive enough that you can make your way through the quick menu without putting too much pressure on it. Helping to reduce the chance of shaking your camera if it is attached to it.
The receiver can be connected to your capture device via a number of methods right out of the box. All depending on what your device is. It features both a 3.5mm aux out and a USB-C out.
If you are using a DSLR or other form of camera, it comes with a 3.5mm to 3.5mm aux (TRS) cable. If you are using a smartphone, tablet, or laptop that has USB-C, it comes with a USB-C to USB-C cable. If you are using a computer or laptop that features a USB-A port (your basic USB port that has been around for years), it comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable as well. Finally, if you are using an Apple device that uses a Lightning connection, it comes with a USB-C to Lightning cable.
All of this making sure that it will work with most devices without having to buy any adapters. The only thing it is missing is XLR or a TRRS connection, but that won’t be an issue for most users. XLR scenarios will likely mean you are looking for something from one of those bigger companies. Else, you can buy an adapter online easily for cheap. As for TRRS, most mobile devices that have a TRRS port, also have a USB-C port. And in most cases, many of the new modern devices (phones, tablets) have been releasing with just USB-C and no headphone/mic port. So no matter what, you should be covered in almost all situations.
The charging case keeps everything together and charged when you aren’t using them. The transmitters provide up to 7.5 hours of use while the receiver offers up to 9 hours. However, this changes to up to 22 hours of use if you keep using the case to keep them topped off.
As soon as you place the units into the case, the begin to resume charging. White status lights will aluminate within the case showing you each device is charging. While the screen of the receiver also shows a visual of everything charging, including the status of each (when the lid is open).
The front of the case offers four LED status lights to how the current charge of the case itself. There is a USB-C connection on the back of the case which charges both the case and everything in it when you need everything to top off at once.
Each individual unit can also charge via its USB-C port as well (as well as update firmware).
As mentioned, there is also a semi-hardshell carrying case. This stores the entire charging case, plus a zipper area in the lid that stores all of the accessories.
Finally, the transmitters do have a 3.5mm input for using an external wired lav microphone. The company does sell these separately since they are optional (they can also be found as a bundle). If you end up using a wired lav, this disables the built-in microphone of the transmitters and switches over to the plugged in lav. At this point, the transmitter is simply a transmitter and the wired lav is the mic.
These wound up being one of the best Hollyland solutions we have come across. A toss up between these and the Lark 150 kit. Only these are more durable and offer longer battery life. Also, the noise cancelation sounds pretty good with this kit.
We like the fact that their internal microphones sound fantastic. Not only that, but these promise a range of up to 820 feet (line of sight) from the receiver. Allowing you to get away with potentially anything outside. Also, their ability to attach to clothing via magnet and not just via clip can be a big deal at times. Not to mention their 48kHz / 24-bit audio.
So what does this actually sound like? We have broken it down into three scenarios here. Using the unit as the microphone, enabling ENC, and making use of the optional wired lav.
Microphone test using the built-in microphone:
Microphone test using the built-in microphone with ENC enabled:
Microphone test using the optional wired lav attached:
As you can hear, these mics sound pretty good. So good that they sound better than using the optional wired lavs. In many cases, using lavs would sound better than the built-in mics found in these mobile kits. At least, this is the case with using Hollyland’s lavs.
The wired lav seems a bit muddy for our tastes, so we couldn’t ever see ourselves making use of them. This situation might turn a little if you decide to use a 3.5mm wired mic from another company like Sennheiser. So if you have other wired lav mics lying around, they may be worth trying out to see how they sound. You may find that they sound better than the Hollyland wired options.
Regardless, simply using the built-in microphones seems to get you exactly what you’d want to hear. Crisp, clean, and professional-sounding audio.
These are available as single channel and dual channel options. The single channel kit will run you $199, while the dual channel kit (the one we have been testing) comes with an MSRP of $299. For what they sound like, this seems to be a fair price.
These microphones sound fantastic. So much that you likely won’t ever use a wired lav with them. Of course, if you do, we’d recommend trying out a number of wired lav options as you might find something that sounds better than the ones we tested these with. But when it comes to our trials, we liked the built-in microphone better than going wired, hands down.
The kit seems to be priced well and offers a lot of power in a mobile friendly solution. The battery life is great and the screen and menu system is a lot easier to look at and get around in.
We could easily see ourselves making use of these with smaller mobile camera kits. Even though we have plenty of big-name products in our inventory of gear. Simply because these are so user-friendly.
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.