Hollyland LARK MAX Review – Solid Performer With Very Good Audio Quality

Hollyland LARK MAX Review - Solid Performer With Very Good Audio Quality

Hollyland have just released their most advanced All-In-One wireless Lavalier Microphone system, the LARK MAX. We were lucky enough to put it through its paces. After all, we filmmakers and content creators are constantly seeking reliable cost-effective audio devices to accompany our visual masterpieces. Is this new wireless Lavalier mic up to the task? Let’s review the Hollyland LARK MAX and find out.

Hollyland is a Chinese company specializing in manufacturing wireless video transmissions solutions like the Cosmo, Syscom, and Mars families, Intercom systems (Solidcam, Mars, Syscom), cameras (Arocam/Live Streaming Camera), and Wireless Microphone Systems, where the new LARK MAX fits in perfectly.

Hollyland LARK MAX. Image credit: CineD

The LARK MAX will be sold in two configurations – the “LARK MAX duo” consists of a receiver and dual mic/recorders (priced at $299), and the “LARK MAX solo”, which will come, as the name suggests, with a single mic/recorder next to the receiver and will be priced at $199. Looking at those prices, it seems as if they were designed to combat the popular DJI Mic, and at an even more affordable price.

HOLLYLAND LARK MAX. A single receiver and two mic/recorders
Hollyland LARK MAX. A single receiver and two mic/recorders. Image credit: CineD

All-In-One Wireless Lavalier Microphone System’s main selling points

In such a saturated market, you might well ask what the main selling points for any company with this kind of product might be. Well, at least for Hollyland, the answer is clear, and this is what they came up with in their latest device:

Audio quality: This is an essential point to start with. I’m happy to report that the sound coming out of the new LARX MAX when using the mic/recorder is very nice! It is rich, lifelike, and very pleasant to listen to.

External microphone input
External microphone input. Image credit: CineD

External microphone input: The option to enhance recording quality by connecting external lavaliers of your choice is an essential feature. I would dare say that if this feature was not available, I’d skip the device altogether.

Internal Recording
Internal Recording. Image credit: CineD

Internal Recording: I can’t stress enough how important this feature actually is. Once you’ve been exposed to it, there is no going back. This feature makes so much sense for a wide range of film projects, like weddings and documentaries just to name a few. With internal audio recording implemented in your device, you no longer need to worry about interruptions, audio cuts, or sudden camera recording stops. Even in such instances, the audio is securely stored within the device itself, so the audio is not lost.

Safety Track Recording option
Safety Track Recording option. Image credit: CineD

Safety Track Recording: As long as companies do not implement a 32-bit float recording option in their devices (In this price range) this is one of the preferred ways to avoid “sound recording disasters” like audio clipping.

The true meaning of a “safety recording track” is a duplication of the recorded main track but at a lower level. With the LARK MAX, currently, it is not possible to simultaneously record two audio channels on the mic/recorder itself, (like main and sub with lower dB), so the way it is working now, it is the receiver that is sending two separate mono channels to the camera itself with one being -6dB lower.

A chart demonstrating the sound level flow in the different recording modes
From the microphones to the receiver and then, output to the camera. Different recording modes result in different audio levels recorded in the camera. Credit: Hollyland

I truly hope that Hollyland can look into this and enable Safety Track recording within the mic/recorder itself.

Auto Record turned "ON"
Auto Record turned “ON”. Image credit: CineD
Auto Record settings (On/Off)
Auto Record settings (On/Off). Image credit: CineD

(Internal) Auto Record Start option: Personally, I’ve adopted to ALWAYS work with such a feature if the product allows it. For example, when working on an interview set-up or following an interviewee, there is always a certain element of stress, especially when working in a “one-man band” style. This means that filming, lighting, and audio recording are all being done by a single person, and if there is a feature that can help to reduce the risk of something going wrong, I’ll snag it. Auto Record Start is doing just that. It ensures that another audio file will always be recorded as soon as you take the mic out of the charging box.

environmental noise cancellation (ENC)
environmental noise cancellation (ENC). Image credit: CineD

environmental noise cancellation (ENC): Not to be confused with Active Noise Cancelation (ANC), this sound processing technique is used to reduce or eliminate unwanted sounds from the surrounding environment more naturally.

I have mixed emotions about this feature and let me cut right to my conclusion. This ENC thing will work well as long as you are trying to combat fan, hiss, or air-conditioning noise. If you were to place it in a more demanding and noisy environment, such as inside a train or near a working engine, you would seriously jeopardize the quality of your voice recordings.

With 8GB, storage capacity, plenty of audio is not an issue
With 8GB, storage capacity, plenty of audio is not an issue. Image credit: CineD

Compact in size, long capacity storage and battery life, easy control, and file management: The last thing I want to do while filming and recording audio is to dive into the menu of my audio device and spend too much time “digging around”. I want it to be “straightforward, easy to use, and able to monitor changes in audio in “real-time”. I don’t want to constantly check the charge on the device and be concerned about the audio storage capacity.

Only two buttons to deal with
Only two buttons to deal with. Image credit: CineD

In this regard, there are only two buttons to fiddle with. One is “touch” and the other is a physical push button. Taking a few minutes to understand how they operate will save you A LOT of time on location and it’s very straightforward.

If you are worried about “recording storage space”, or “battery life”, rest assured that with its 8GB of internal memory and a relatively high-capacity battery, the LARK MAX won’t “just stop recording”.

Unlike some devices on the market, there is no need for an additional App to explore the recorder and check for the audio files. After connecting it to the computer, it will be recognized as an “external device” so files can be retrieved easily and directly.

As you can see, I’m happy to report that the new Hollyland LARK MAX ticks all the selling points and, in many cases, exceeds expectations admirably. While there is always room for improvement, it is a great starting point and more for anyone considering such a device.

Left: DJI Mic Right: Comica.
Left: DJI Mic / Right: Comica. Image credit: CineD

The competition

As mentioned earlier, the market for wireless Lavalier microphone audio systems has experienced significant growth in recent years and has become highly saturated. There are (so) many companies out there, but it is safe to say that at a certain price range, DJI Mic (our preferred device so far) and RØDE with their Wireless GO II are most probably the ones to take the lead. Speaking of which, I’m really wondering what RØDE’s next move will be to keep a lead with their GO devices. Will it be a 32-bit internal recording? (In the above image we added a Comica mic for size illustration).

Each of those systems has its uniqueness, but Hollyland and its LARK MAX system are doing a great job of combining many of the useful features found in both devices and delivering them in a single, cost-effective package.

HOLLYLAND LARK MAX in the charging case
Hollyland LARK MAX inside the charging case. Image credit: CineD

Hollyland LARK MAX


More often than not, I am astonished by the remarkable efforts made by many Chinese companies in our industry when it comes to packaging their products. In today’s competitive market, it is almost a must (or should I say a “given”), but if you recall, not so long ago this was not the situation. In this regard, Hollyland is no different. Holding the box of this new All-In-One Wireless Lavalier Microphone system feels as if you just got yourself a new iPhone. When you open the (magnetic) box, you will find a robust case inside – one that will accommodate EVERYTHING you need to take with you on the go. Inside this case, you will find the charging case that houses a single receiver and two microphones/recorders, along with an assortment of cables (which we will discuss in more detail later) and two windshields. These fit perfectly well with each of the microphones/recorders thanks to a clever design. (Make sure the two rubber parts are placed in the mic dedicated space).

Clever windshield attachment design
Clever windshield attachment design! Image credit: CineD

One remark on packaging: In my opinion, Hollyland is using too much plastic to protect the devices and their charging connectors. I hope that the company can explore more environmentally-friendly packaging options in the future, reducing the use of small plastic foils whenever possible.

Mic setting menu
Hollyland LARK MAX mic setting menu. Image credit: CineD
Output level control
Output level control. Image credit: CineD


As a general guideline, when recording audio directly to the camera, it is advisable to set the camera input levels on the lower end. Some mirrorless cameras have better audio preamps than others, but to ensure better audio recording quality, this is a good tip! (In my test, I lowered the camera input on the FUJIFILM X-S20 to -22db)

Assuming that you have already charged the case, upon opening it, the single receiver (RX) and two mic/recorders will “smile at you” indicating they are ready to be used. The receiver will show all three components’ battery charging levels next to the charging level of the case itself.

Recording modes. Stereo/Mono/Safety Track
Recording modes. Stereo/Mono/Safety Track. Image credit: CineD

Remove the receiver from the charging case and there will be an indication for:

  • Audio recording mode (S for stereo, M for mono, and ST for safety track).
  • Connection to the mic/recorders indication
  • Microphone recording levels

On the mic/recorders, look for a solid blue light to indicate that they are paired with the receiver and are ready to be used (without Noise Reduction applied).

From that point onwards, it becomes a matter of mix-and-match settings, depending on your specific goals and what you want to achieve.

REC indicator on both, Mic/recorder and receiver
REC indicator on both, Mic/recorder and receiver. Image credit: CineD

In the field

I recently shot a mini-documentary testing a new set of lenses (tune in for the announcement date on July 3rd). Next to the “straightforward” main interview, I was recording lots of live music. The energetic Brazilian band consisted of four talented people using instruments that sounded beautiful together, but very loud! When I first heard them singing and drumming, I had concerns about potential audio clipping or the system’s ability to level the audio effectively. I opted to select the two lead singers and attached the microphones/recorders to them, and then took extra care in controlling the receiver output to the camera, ensuring optimal audio quality. I also made sure that the mic levels were not too high to avoid clipping at the beginning of the recording chain. In the end, and to my relief, the new Hollyland All-In-One wireless Lavalier mic coped very well.

Microphones levels indication on the receiver
Microphones levels indication on the receiver. Image credit: CineD

Note: the audio levels seen on the receiver AMOLED touchscreen represent the levels of the mic/recorders. When you get those right, you can proceed further down the chain and utilize the main rotating knob to control the signal output level to the camera. (Both mic/recorders can be controlled separately). Then, if the audio levels on your camera are too high, slowly decrease the camera mic volume until you get nice, clean audio.

Spot the magnet on the shirt
Spot the magnet on the shirt. Image credit: CineD
The strongest mic magnets I ever worked with
The strongest mic magnets I have ever worked with. Image credit: CineD

Another small but important plus for the system is the strength of the supplied magnets. These are truly impressive and worth writing home about. In my mini-documentary, I dealt with enthusiastic Capoeira instructors, and they are really like small kids constantly on the move (in a positive way of course). Bottom line, I ended the two days of filming without losing either of the two magnets and I know from experience that this is not always the case…

Menu control assortment
Hollyland LARK MAX menu control assortment. Image credit: CineD

Things to like

  • Audio quality. Very convincing sound quality for the price! We all know how bad the letter “S” can sound on some systems. On this one, it is surprisingly good!
  • Quick setting lock/unlock is possible with a short button press.
  • Very strong magnets made for attaching the mics inside a shirt for a smaller “mic footprint”.
  • Noise reduction quality: Strangely enough (or not), my remark here is on the positive side, but it belongs below in the “what can be enhanced” paragraph, too. Please allow me to explain:

As mentioned earlier in this review, when dealing with “constant” noise, the noise reduction functionality performs very well. However, I’ve yet to see a noise reduction solution that works flawlessly in all situations. It seems that all those NR chips have a specific “sound stamp” built into them to reduce specific noise without the ability to “learn the noise” and isolate it properly.

  • The assortment of cables included in the package provides everything you need to get started. These include a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable (for connecting the receiver to the camera), USB-C to USB-A cable, USB-C to USB-C cable, and USB-C to Lightning cable. It’s worth noting that this audio system can be connected to your phone and even controlled through the Hollyland App. However, at the time of writing this review, the App did not support the new LARK MAX, and therefore, it was not tested.
  • Transmission strength is solid as long as you keep your eyesight with the camera (receiver). I was about 100 meters away from the camera and as long as I saw it, the recording quality was fine.
Max brightness is not enough in full daylight
Max brightness is not enough in full daylight. Image credit: CineD
Mic Indication LED on the mic is too small
Mic Indication LED on the mic is too small. Image credit: CineD

What can be enhanced?

  • When filming outdoors in bright sunlight, the small blue/green indicator and the separate red indicator on the mic/recorder are useless. It is simply very difficult to see if those are activated or not. Almost the same can be said about the receiver itself although not to the same degree. The AMOLED touch screen remains visible, but efforts should be made to improve the readability of the information displayed on it.
  • Either when pressing the REC button or when starting to record automatically, I would have appreciated a “physical sign” that recording had actually begun. With DJI Mic you have that short vibration as an indication. It is not available on this device.
  • Like with DJI Mic, to my taste, the internal audio recording levels of the mic/recorder itself are too low. I wish there was a way to record internally a bit on higher levels.
  • Back to noise cancellation, this can be applied to both mic/recorders only. There is no way to choose only one device and leave the other without this setting.
EQ Setting option
EQ Setting menu. Image credit: CineD
EQ Settings options option
EQ Settings options option. Image credit: CineD


The new LARK MAX confidently goes head-to-head with the DJI Mic, without any sense of inferiority, matching it eye to eye in terms of performance and capabilities. Its overall sound quality is very nice and “rounded”. Between DJI Mic, RØDE Wireless GO II, and LARK MAX, the Hollyland is my winner. The kit seems to be complete with two mic/recorders and a variety of useful features. Operating the mics, in general, is straightforward. On the downside, it would be preferable if both the main and safety tracks could be recorded as separate channels within the mic/recorder itself, rather than the current setup where the safety track is recorded in the mic/recorder while the main track is outputted to an external camera for recording.

Do you have experience working with Hollyland audio devices? Does this new LARK MAX sound like a good option for your productions? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.


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