“Come on feel the noise. Girls rock your boys. We’ll get wild, wild, wild!” – Quiet Riot
Does the following scenario sound familiar? You get ready to detect a site and flip on your machine, and it is just noisy, like a Geiger counter is strapped to your head instead of your headphones.
Here are eight recommended steps, in recommended order, to reduce your detector’s noise while minimizing the effect on depth and trash/iron performance.
1) Calm Yourself
Sometimes when this happens I am tired and/or stressed out from work and trying to get in a quick session before dark. Maybe I drank too much coffee that morning. Whatever the case, I’m not in an optimal mental state for the concentration required for maximum depth and picking good finds out of heavy nails and trash.
Recognizing that I’m part of the problem is important. Try to calm myself down, even if it means turning off the detector, taking some time to get my head straight, and starting over.
2) Identify the Type of Noise
Identify what type of noise you are dealing with. Is it electrical interference – the detector is sounding off randomly even when you hold the coil still over clear ground? Or is the noise due to heavy iron or trash? I often pick good targets out of the heavy trash or iron “nail beds” where a structure once stood with little or no discrimination. If you are not conditioned for it or in a good state of mind, the noise of hearing all the nails or trash can drive you mad quickly.
If you are detecting a hunted out site, or a site with sparse targets, you might need to be able to stand a little noise to have a shot at some deep targets, so before continuing, think about trying to reduce the noise to a level you can deal with instead of trying to eliminate it all together.
3) Change Frequency / Channel
If your problem is electrical interference, start with changing your detector’s frequency. Some detectors have a “noise cancel” function that selects a better channel automatically. Check your detector’s manual. Others you can cycle through frequencies and find the quietest one using trial and error. If your detector is an extremely sensitive, deep one, this is usually the most important step in the process. If the interference doesn’t subside to a level you can deal with, continue.
4) Ground Balance Your Machine
I find that Ground Balancing my detector to a proper level allows me to run the sensitivity higher yet allow the detector to remain stable. Check your detector’s manual for the process to Ground Balance your machine.
5) Get Out of the Iron and Trash
If the noise is due to heavy iron or trash, you need to make a decision. If you are tired or stressed, perhaps you would be better served to get out of the iron-infested or heavy trash area and try that again another day.
6) Turn up Discrimination
Another option to reduce iron/trash noise is to increase your discrimination. Remember that increasing your discrimination may cause you to not hear some deep targets that are partially masked or on the edge or your detector’s depth range. These targets may sound like deep nails until you isolate them and take a closer look. So
7) Turn the Threshold and/or Volume Down
If I still can’t stand the noise and don’t want to up discrimination or drop sensitivity, then I’ll turn the volume down so I can handle the noise. Sometimes just raising one headphone above my ear and detecting with just one works until I get in a groove and can stand the noise. You can also drop your threshold, the constant light hum you hear when your detector isn’t detecting a target, down until it is barely audible, if you don’t already have it that way.
8) Drop Sensitivity
As a last resort, I turn down the sensitivity on my machine. If I’m hunting a nice, virgin site with lots of good targets, this isn’t a big deal. However, I hate to do this on heavily hunted sites, and will do this as a last resort. Dropping the sensitivity will cut out the noise.