I have slowly been making my way into the video realm and have quickly realized that I need an easy-to-use audio setup for filming on location. But since I mostly shoot photos, I didn’t want to take up a ton of room in my bag. After some research, the Hollyland LARK 150 checked all the boxes, but how does it hold up in real-world use?
To start, the Hollyland LARK 150 is a wireless audio system that is based in the 2.4 GHz wireless spectrum. Now, a lot of people will tell you this spectrum is no good for audio because of how crowded the space is. Being filled with things like Bluetooth, wireless internet, security systems, etc., there is no doubt the spectrum is used by a lot of devices. Thankfully, the LARK 150 is equipped with an FHSS technology (frequency-hopping spread spectrum). What this does is allows the device to automatically pair the receiver and transmitter with a smart frequency selection. This allows you to be certain you won’t have to deal with any unwanted interferences. From here, the devices have a 328-foot working distance with a 5 ms latency.
The devices come in a rectangular case that also acts as a charging station. Similar to devices like wireless headphones, you simply remove the device from the case and everything turns on and pairs up automatically. If you run out of juice, you can just place each piece back in the case to charge even if you are away from a power source since the case has a built-in battery. From a full charge, a single transmitter can last for up to 10 hours. If you use both transmitters, this number drops a bit down to 7 hours. But with the battery case, you can easily record all day while on location.
For the transmitters, these are the smallest on the market (even smaller than the Rode Wireless GO). But their small size does not limit their functionality. Each transmitter has a built-in mic as well as an anti-vibration design with built-in digital noise cancelation. The best part is that all these features work seamlessly in the background so you never have to do anything to get them working.
Each transmitter also has a clip for attaching to a shirt or collar if it will be used as the recording device. But, if you plan to attach a lav mic of some type, you can also use this clip to attach to a pocket or belt. The best part is that Hollyland includes a set of lav mics to use so you won’t need to spend the extra money in order to use the setup in this configuration. If you want to hear a quick example of a transmitter and the included lav mic, you can see the below video.
Another thing you will find on the transmitter is a button that can be used to manually power off the device with a long press. If you give this button a quick press, it will mute the mic. There are also two LED lights that will give you a visual as to whether the device is connected, muted, and charged. If recording in stereo, these lights will also tell you if the transmitter is recording on the left or right channel. The problem here, though, is that the colors used for this are blue and cyan. So, even with the devices next to each other, it’s hard to really tell the difference between the two. This feature would have been much more beneficial if they used more contrasting colors that you could easily distinguish between.
As for the receiver, this device has a small screen on it that can relay all your needed information. When the receiver is inside the case, this screen can tell you the battery level of each device as well as the case itself. Once things are removed, this screen can tell you the battery levels of each device as well as signal strength, output levels, recording modes, etc.
The receiver also has the exact same clip as the transmitters, and this clip doubles as a cold-shoe mount so you can easily attach it to your camera without the need for added accessories. The receiver also has a pair of physical knobs that can also be pressed like a button. These knobs let you individually control the levels of each transmitter, and then, you can press the buttons to access or change different sets of features — things like switching which transmitter is on the right channel or switching between recording modes.
One of the best features that you can implement is a safety track feature. This allows you to record the audio from one transmitter while using the second transmitter to record the same audio from a -6 dB level. This gives you a backup track in case your speaker begins to speak louder than you planned. So, if your main track begins to pop and crackle, you now have a safety track that you can fall back on.
In addition to the case, transmitter, receiver, and lav mics, you also get a host of other accessories. You get cables to connect to your camera, a cable for phones, two little dead-cats that can clip onto the transmitters, as well as a carrying pouch. So, the inclusion of the lav mics alone is a pretty good added value.
What I Liked
- Super small and easy to use
- Great sound
- Comes with everything you need to get started.
What I Didn't Like
- Blue and cyan colors are hard to differentiate
At the end of the day, I found the Hollyland LARK 150 to be extremely easy to use, and it provides me with a great audio solution for location work. The battery case means I never have to worry about running low on juice, and all of the useful features being automatic mean I never have to fidget and fine-tune things in order to get started. If you are looking for a wireless audio solution, this device should definitely be on your list.