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Axiom Sensitivity - A Must Read For All New Owners!

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On 11/23/2022 at 7:40 PM, Steve Herschbach said:

It is a genuine problem. Many people simply have no sense. They think if they run anything but max sensitivity, if they turn it down at all, they “lose sensitivity” i.e. “depth”. So they refuse to do it, then complain there is something wrong with the detector. “Well, they should just design it to run full out, but get rid of the noise.” Yeah, by magic. Everything in detecting is a trade off, no free lunch. I’m happy now to be seeing that trade made obvious, instead of being delivered a detector that is neutered for the masses. But yeah, some people just won’t listen, and it will lead to some silly commentary, or stupid videos done by people who have no idea what they are doing.

I kid around above, but i see this attitude out there about running at max and criticizing a detector if you can't hunt with everything set for optimal conditions. Life isn't always optimal.

I have some areas i shallow water hunt where there are high power transmission lines running over my head. Most days i cannot get my 800 to be anything close to stable using multi-frequency settings despite efforts with noise cancel and sensitivity adjustments. Here i end up picking either 10kHz or 15kHz as my search frequency and then hunting.  Suddenly, things go quiet as a mouse. Some have said, See, what use is a multi-freq if you can't always hunt in multi-freq? To that I've responded that it's great to hunt in multi-freq, but if i can't, i also have in hand a selectable frequency detector that allows me to hunt despite conditions that might otherwise drive me away. I think of it as versatility.

I'm excited about learning the new Axiom and exploring some new areas - 

UtahRich - 


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Rich that vid is spot on mr. 🤣🤣

Me driving to my favorite honey hole. Officer my speedometer says I can go 120. 🤣

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/24/2022 at 12:35 AM, Steve Herschbach said:

Last summer I shot a video with the Garrett crew, with a concise set of tips for helping new Axiom owners get started, and a focus on nugget hunting. In that video it was very short and easy. Turn detector on, and while using default settings, set sensitivity to max, and a few quick pumps to manually ground balance. EMI cancel as an added option if needed. There video is below, and still very much worth watching. But things have changed dramatically with the settings, so I now have a new set of recommendations.

Simply put, the Axiom went on steroids after my feedback from my Australia trip. Overall gain and sensitivity were boosted dramatically, and the ground balance system further improved. Before, you could pretty much run the detector at full out sensitivity anytime, anyplace. Now, you most definitely cannot do that! I hope my old video does not end up hurting some new buyer experiences, and hopefully an updated version will be released. Regardless, you will be getting far more detailed information in this post.

The sensitivity control has eight settings, and used to have a default of 6. Before, you could just go to 8 and call it good. Now, the new default setting is 4, which is in reality even higher than the prototype setting of 6. There has been a very large jump in gain, with the highest settings pushing the hardware to the limits.

The sensitivity control is basically a post processing audio boost. It increases not only target signals, but all audio signals. The system is designed to try and treat target audio preferentially, but the fact remains that increasing the sensitivity control adds more “noise” in the form of ground feedback, hot rocks, and EMI. The number one goal of new owners while learning the Axiom should be smooth, quiet operation. I promise you that you will not get that if you run the sensitivity too high!

My basic recommendation is new owners is to stay at 4 until you learn the detector. Do not do what the video says and go to max!! Experienced PI operators will probably be happier at 5 or 6. That’s subjective, and the pros will stay put, or go lower, or higher. But in general I found 6 worked well for me, but remember, I like running on the hot and noisy side.

Settings 7 and 8 should be in bright red, like the red zone on your cars RPM gauge. You should only go there if you know exactly what you are doing. These settings are not intended for general operation, but for user indicated specific situations. They will make the machine noisier, and so the operators ability to use ALL the other settings, and the proper coil, will determine how useful these redline settings are.

For new operators, new owners, everything depends on EMI and ground conditions, but look for a quiet, stable setting. It is a fact that target signals usually drop off slower than the “noise” signals, and by eliminating the noise, you will make targets more distinct, and easier to hear. A test target can be extremely helpful in adjusting the control. Make the target as distinct as possible to your own ear. Turning the sensitivity up will make the target sound off louder, but go too high, and you will get lots of other signals. Trained ears can separate these signals from target signals, which tend to have a distinct sound all their own. But to new users, it’s all just noise, and everything might sound just like a target. False signals, that tire the operator with mental processing, and possibly holes dug where nothing exists. Time wasted. Many operators will find they prefer the setting to be at moderate levels, with the detector basically silent, unless a genuine target sounds off. Some pros will prefer this also. There is no right or wrong in all this, no magic canned settings. Different people use different methods, often with similar results.

The new default setting of 4 is what would be considered a “safe” setting. It may very well suit some pros quite well, Some experts prefer quiet operation, and so may find 4 or no more than 5 to be their preferred settings. Some may tolerate noise very well, and choose 6 instead. In general 6 worked very well for me. People who know me, know I like pushing the sensitivity very high. Axiom is a detector I like, because it makes me find my limits, and even I am finding out the need to finesse the setting more than I can with other machines.

So back to sensitivity settings 7 and 8, the Redline Settings. What I mention below is very important if you attempt to use them. Do not expect automatically that you just can and all will be well. Going right to these settings may do nothing but make you unhappy. You need to understand the machine and how all the settings and coils interplay to get the most out of the top end. However, even the default setting of 4 will benefit from these tips.

For instance, if you are in an area free of EMI, higher sensitivity is more available. Less variable ground is more amenable to high sensitivity. DD coils can tolerate higher sensitivity. Small coils tolerate high sensitivity more than large coils.

The other settings now matter a lot more. Before, the machine ran well with all the others settings at default. Now, they will come into play far more often, and you need to know what you are doing with them.

The Speed Control is absolutely critical for operation at the highest sensitivity level. The default Medium Speed is fine for general operation, but if you are pushing the sensitivity up, Slow will run quieter, and you will absolutely benefit as an operator by also slowing down yourself. VLF users go too fast, period, for general PI operation. If you are patch hunting or just desire to cover ground, run the defaults. But if you are really wanting max performance on a hunted patch, nothing will benefit you more than just going slower! Coil to the ground, low and slow, can’t say it enough. The Slow Speed mode is made for this type of hunting, and it really helps with higher sensitivity levels to use the Slow setting, and move at a crawl.

The Timing setting is another great example. There are four timings, Fine (Default), Normal, Large, and Salt. In general, each successive one is introducing longer pulse delays, which tends to lower overall sensitivity to ground, hot rocks, and smaller targets. The Salt setting eliminates salt signals, but eliminates small gold signals also. See this link for details.

Before, I could run Fine Mode at full sensitivity of 8 almost anywhere. Now, Normal becomes a more viable alternative setting, as it tolerates a higher sensitivity setting. Each successive mode can lower overall sensitivity, but can now be offset more by running a higher sensitivity control setting. It’s very much like a salt and pepper thing, and has to be adjusted to taste. The key thing to do here is not forget about the alternative modes. Again, a test target, like a small nugget or small piece of lead, can really help here. Don’t just stick with Fine Mode. You might discover that Normal, with the sensitivity one notch higher then what you were using with Fine, works better in your particular location, especially if larger gold is the main goal. Dry beach hunters and relic hunters in particular may benefit from Normal or Large, but with higher sensitivity levels than would be used with Fine.

In general, both EMI canceling and proper ground balance are more important at high sensitivity levels, and both may need to be done more often, depending where you are. Hot rocks get boosted at high sensitivity, and the Garrett hot rock window mode will be more important than ever, for dealing with those oddball rocks.

To repeat, coils matter more at the highest settings, with DD coils in general tolerating higher sensitivity.

The background threshold tone will increase at high sensitivity levels. Here is a weird trick people can experiment with. Run sensitivity 7 or 8, but run threshold at -8 or -9. This suppresses the threshold entirely, but with the sensitivity control maxed you might get some breakthrough chirps. So sensitivity 7 or 8, threshold -8 or -9. Any combination of those might be the magic. It makes the Axion dead quiet, but get over a target, and BANG! you will know something is there. Could be the ultimate setting for a rank newbie, making the Axiom act almost more like a silent search VLF. But you pros may discover it has uses also so do give it a try.

I’ll end with my favorite example of my using the highest sensitivity setting of 8. Shallow ground, tiny gold. 11” DD coil, Fine Mode, Sensitivity 8, Slow Speed, and move at a crawl investigating the tiniest of sounds. It might be too noisy for you, if so, lower that sensitivity.

And to wrap up, that’s the answer in general. If you think the Axiom is too noisy, if you are getting too much in the way of false signals, EMI, erratic operation, you name it - LOWER THE SENSITIVITY SETTING! I’m serious, if you don’t want to get a “what are you, stupid” type response don’t complain the Axiom is noisy. It’s only noisy if you make it noisy, and I promise you can. That’s by design, that’s how you find the edge. Nothing is more irritating than people who complain about problems they are creating for themselves. Lower the sensitivity!

Look at it like this. The Axiom is your car. The sensitivity setting is your gas pedal. Would you want a car that you could drive with the pedal to the floor all the time? Set to be safe on corners and rough roads. Can’t go faster than 35mph no matter what? That’s the way a lot of detectors get designed. Or do you want the car to be able to go to 120mph, even though that’s not safe, or even legal? Do you want passing power? Do you want to be able to open it up on the freeway and maybe speed a little? The Axiom sensitivity control is like the gas pedal on a sports car. Press it down too far when you should not, you will crash and burn. The top end is there for the rare circumstances where they make sense, or for those operators who can run at higher, noisier levels, and do the mental processing required to pick target signals out of the noise.

So one last time, and repeat after me, when in doubt, if something is wrong - lower the sensitivity!!

I do hope this helps some people get started out right. The Axiom is a wonderful detector with the right driver behind the wheel. Take your time to learn it properly before you go racing. If you do so you will learn to appreciate it like I have. Thank you Garrett for making this happen, and for letting me take my swings at you, and taking them with good cheer. The final result is better because of the effort. :smile:

The original tips video, with now obsolete settings tip for the sensitivity control.

Garrett Axiom Quick Facts, Owner's Manual, Etc.


Hi Steve,

Bad luck I couldn’t buy you a beer in Meekatharra but that’s how it goes sometimes.
Glad you got home safe.

Questions, if I may. Have my Axiom now and some things aren’t adding up.
First, are all production units ‘on steroids’ as you mentioned or did some get shipped as a less powerful version?
Second, any idea why a 0.11 gram nugget sitting on the ground would be very hard to hear under the coil but very easy to hear while being waved over the back of the coil?
Spent 4 hours today messing about and could not resolve this. Three different locations miles apart with very different ground but same result.
Otherwise liking it.

You are right though, the headphones are shit. Sound like a speaker behind a blanket.
Dont remember that on the evaluation unit I played with?
Unfortunately Garrett Australia says the WR-1 1/4” is no longer available!!! 🤬
Have to try and order one from over there so I can use decent headphones and be wireless.

Say hello to Condor (Steve) and Dimitri for me 👍


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6 hours ago, Gone Bush said:

First, are all production units ‘on steroids’ as you mentioned or did some get shipped as a less powerful version?

Steroids just means the gain was increased from earlier units, not that it is a super detector, it is what it is. There is only one shipping version that I am aware of. My only guess, and guessing it is half way around the world, as to the issue you are describing is something in the ground balance setting being too aggressive? Full reset, start over.

Maybe compare notes with Norvic?

Sorry I missed you, Condor had nothing but glowing words for you. :smile:

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