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This Is For The Total Newbie (one Who Never Metal Detected)

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This is for the person who has no experience in metal detecting on what to buy and how to get started.

Today's modern metal detectors are more like computers (or more exactly modern signal processors). They are very powerful and often complex.

Buying one the best detectors out there, the Minelab Equinox 800 is a real mistake if you have never metal detected. Quite honestly it is too complex for you to learn in addition to learning how to metal detect.

Instead buy the Minelab Vanquish 540 for $379 for a packaged deal.
Why? It is simple to learn and it uses the same Target Id numerical range and tones as the Equinox 800. Use the 540 to learn the theory of metal detecting. The physics behind metal detecting is the same for all detectors for the most part.

Use your 540 for the first year. Once you are proficient (eg finding some good targets on a regular basis) then and only then consider the Equinox 800. But be prepared for a steeper learning curve. But it will be made easier by your year's experience with the Vanquish 540.

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Can't argue with this advice.

The Vanquish-then-Equinox progression seems like a very solid approach, even if going from a 340 to 600/800.

I put a decent amount of time into my 540 before I sold it. I hated to "give up" that learning I did with it, but I just can't justify the price of an Equinox...for now. But my soil is too minerlized to go deep with the 540, so I was approaching its detecting limits.

I may take out the 340 for my next hunt, though. It uses the V8 coil and I want to re-check a curbstrip that turned up mostly trash with my AT Max and the stock 8.5x11 coil.

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I find the Equinox to be just fine as a turn on and go detector where you just select your detecting environment and go.  It's only complicated if you want it to be.  It's stable ID's make learning detecting on coin type targets a breeze.  Sure the Vanquish is just as easy if not easier as you can't get tempted to play with settings but I personally wouldn't tell someone to buy a Vanquish as they're a beginner and buy an Equinox when they're more skilled, as you can just buy the Equinox and use it as a turn on and go detector and have room to grow into it. 

I love my Vanquish, it's fantastic but the Nox is better.  In some detecting environment's a Vanquish won't cut it without ground balance so a Nox is necessary so a beginner buying a detector that won't ground balance in their soil isn't going to go down very well.

I would say buy an Equinox if you an afford it, buy a Vanquish if you can't knowing one day you might want to upgrade to an Equinox anyway as you become more skilled at detecting and want to broaden the targets you look for, such as gold nuggets.

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I get your motive, and what you write is true to a point. 🙂 I started in July 2020 with a Garrett Ace 400, and did ok, but it didn't take me a year to figure out (much as I've also seen Vanquish users write recently) that getting a detector that doesn't ground balance was a big miscalculation. I  had an Equinox in my hands not 5 months later. I would have gone with the Simplex at first as it ground balances and is waterproof had I initially known that there was a metal detector store in my area with a seasoned detectorist in charge. He steered me toward the Equinox 600 as I didn't have the $$ for a Deus or an 800, he knows the area I hunt in. You can take an Equinox or Simplex anywhere. Not so much the others. I do rivers, campgrounds, beaches, and my beloved 100s of acres of farm and farmhouses I have permission to. The only thing I don't have is a park!

I have to say the poor Ace is gathering dust, I'm thinking of selling it for the next improvement on waterproofing, multifrequency, and balancing/noise cancelling. Without all those features no other detector would do. I don't really want to own 10 of them!

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4 minutes ago, phrunt said:

I would say buy an Equinox if you an afford it, buy a Vanquish if you can't knowing one day you might want to upgrade to an Equinox anyway

I think the key with the above statement is that the prospective buyer knows they will eventually want the Equinox. 

Starting with the Vanquish is a good suggestion for those who aren't sure about the hobby. It's a lot easier to drop $200 (USD) or $280 than it is $600+ for an Equinox. Vanquishes also have respectable resale values, too.

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Totally disagree with the original post...you are assuming that people are not smart enough to figure out how to use a detector. The only thing keeping someone from learning a detector is them not using it enough.

"Don't buy that nice fancy new car because you are not smart enough to figure it out...you should get a simple cheap one instead...then when you get good at it you can buy a nice car like me" 

Two of my buddies started with the Nox and are doing great with it. My first coin and jewelry detector was the CTX 3030 which is considered complicated by some and I think I did quite well with it as a novice. The internet is full of good info and videos on how to run these things. 

As far a buying a cheaper detector to figure out if you are going to like the hobby well maybe that some merit but I say to the novice buy the best detector you can afford..my nephew was given a garret ace as his first detector and was very happy using it till he seen how much faster my machine was and then he got frustrated with it. 



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16 hours ago, F350Platinum said:

...Getting a detector that doesn't ground balance was a big miscalculation.

I think the Vanquish does ground balance, it's just not user-controllable.  Simltaneous Multifrequency (SiMF) detectors have the capability of figuring out the ground by getting multiple looks at it (i.e. at different frequencies).  Having said that, there are still advantages to being able to ground balance a SiMF detector, especially in areas where the ground is highly mineralized.  And I'm one of the ML Equinox users who does perform a ground balance, even in my moderately mineralized home turf.  Could I get away without doing that?  Very likely, but I want every advantage available to me, even if only marginal.

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25 minutes ago, GB_Amateur said:

I think the Vanquish does ground balance, it's just not user-controllable.  Simltaneous Multifrequency (SiMF) detectors have the capability of figuring out the ground by getting multiple looks at it (i.e. at different frequencies).  Having said that, there are still advantages to being able to ground balance a SiMF detector, especially in areas where the ground is highly mineralized. 

See, that's the rub. Ground balance is most important in highly mineralized ground (at least in my limited experience).

In milder ground, having your machine call a clad dime or copper penny a silver dime isn't a big deal. But calling wet, red clay a silver dime or clad quarter at 8-10 inches down? Now we've got a problem.

I think you're right, MIQ has some form of ground balancing capability, even if it's not actually ground balancing as we understand the non-trade-seceret-protected concept. But MIQ's "ground balancing" is only effective in mild to moderate ground...where many experienced detectorists can manage to hunt with no ground balancing. 

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My buddy has been using an Advantage for a few years and has tried nothing else. I let  him try my Equinox 800 and I had doubts he would like it. I was surprised how easily he took to it. I showed him the settings and off he went detecting with it. His first target was a silver ring. He ended the day with the silver ring, wheat penny, silver dime and a V nickel. He loved the Equinox 800 and now he has one.

I don't think someone with little or no experience would do well with the Equinox. I think a simpler detector would be better where you can set the disc and dig when it beeps. Get some experience detecting and if they like it, then move up with a better detector.

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Tesoro was in my opinion one of the best beginner unit manufacturer ever. Their compadre or before that the amigo was great for no nonsense fun. Even their silver umax was simple enough for anyone to use. 


The advent that we all need an awesome screen is a little misleading but we all got spoiled with it. Some of my best finds were with machines without meters. 


So as far as I see it, the cell phone people use for searching the internet with are way more complicated than the new machines these days. If anyone can read their manual and take the time to research what terms like gain and notching mean then, there should not be any problems with that same person using an equinox or deus. 

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