My thoughts on the Equinox Metal Detector 800 after 50 hours… A Review

My thoughts on the Equinox Metal Detector 800 after 50 hours… A Review

GUEST POST: By Dewayne Parrish aka Rattlehead

So I’ve been spending pretty much all of my free time with the Equinox since I got it and have a little more than 50 hours on it now. I can’t speak on beach hunting, gold hunting or long term durability, but I feel like I’ve had enough time with it to offer my opinion on how it performs on the type of detecting I do which is looking for coins and relics in the dirt. Hopefully this will be helpful to anyone who is still on the fence about getting one.

I’ll break this down into specifics and give my thoughts on each.

Ergonomics: The Equinox is light weight and well balanced. I believe it weighs around 2.9 lbs which is very close to the Garrett AT Pro, but to me it feels much more balanced. I can swing the Nox for hours without any major arm or shoulder fatigue. I think some of this can be attributed to the straight shaft design. Even the portly CTX 3030 balances well for its weight.

The handle of the Equinox is comfortable to me. Both the angle and length are good. I prefer the hard plastic handles over foam wrapped too. As a side benefit, you can actually feel the speaker vibrations through the handle when you pass over a target. Kind of useful if you’re hunting without headphones at a semi noisy location. The arm cuff offers a lot of adjustment, which is nice.

I was also happy to see that Minelab continues to mount the rod to the center of the coil. I don’t know why some other manufacturers insist on mounting it at the rear. Makes it much more difficult to level your coil by pressing it on the ground.

Overall the Equinox feels like a lightweight 3030 IMHO. For the most part ergonomics are good, but I do have a couple of complaints concerning the button locations.

*I would much prefer a trigger style pinpoint button on the backside of the display, similar to the CTX. This just feels much more natural to me. Maybe because I spent so many years using the Whites XLT and V3I.

*I would like to see the user profile button moved to where the pinpoint button currently resides. This is useful for setting up a program in a single frequency to check iffy targets. For me, this is something that would be used often, so it only makes sense to have easy thumb access.

*I’d also like to see the power button moved down below the display so that it could be accessed with your thumb. I know this is just nitpicking but I don’t like having to remove my arm from the cuff to power on or off.

Display: ID numbers are large and easy to read. I really like how they used icons instead of tiny words as well. Much easier for those of us who don’t have the best vision.

The backlight works well and has multiple settings. I like to leave mine on low all the time. Doesn’t seem to have much effect on battery life and helps me see the display in low light without having to remember to turn it on. I do the same thing with my CTX.

*My biggest complaint with the display is the depth meter. Absolutely worthless, both in functionality and appearance. Come on Minelab! Give us a stable set of digits like on the CTX! 

Battery: I can’t say exactly how many hours I’m getting per charge because I just haven’t kept up with it. But even running the backlight on low all the time, battery life still seems fine to me. Definitely not as much as the CTX, but plenty good enough for the time I spend detecting in a day. If this is something that concerns you, you can always opt for the external battery pack as a back-up.

Menu: No complaints. Menu is well thought out and easy to navigate.

Target ID: If you’re expecting the Equinox to give the same stable TID as something like an Etrac or CTX, you’ll most likely be disappointed. I consider the Target ID on the Nox to be somewhere between FBS and traditional single frequency detectors. The numbers may jump around a bit (especially when hunting trashy spots) but you’ll notice that they tend to stay in the proper range for the target. For example, I see quarters hitting anywhere from 27-32, with the most consistent hits being around 29-30. Deeper targets may read a notch lower. Example: Nickels usually read 12-13, but on the deeper ones you’re likely to see some 11s too. I tend to dig targets based on the “zone” they’re hitting in, rather than the exact TID.

*I’d like to see a little more Target ID resolution. I’m sure the Minelab engineers had reason to do it the way they did, but I think it would’ve been cool if the TID on the NOX matched the CO numbers on the Etrac/CTX. 35 for an Indian, 38 for a zinc, 45-46 for a dime, 47 for a quarter, etc.

Tones: Those coming from another Minelab should feel right at home with the sounds of the Equinox. While it doesn’t give the same degree of flutey sounds as something like a CTX or Etrac in 50 tones, the overall sound is very similar. For cherry picking coins from iron, I’ve found that I prefer 5 tones to 50 tones. Setting everything from 23 on up to the highest pitch really makes coins in the silver range stand out.

This is my coin program:
-Base mode: Park 2.
-Change Target Tones from 50 to 5.
-Disc level – Accept Reject: Reject -9 through 7.
-In advanced Accept/Reject – Tone Breaks:
Tone 1 is set at -9 through 11 (iron and foil range). Set to lowest tone (1)
Tone 2 is set at 12 through 13 (Nickel range). Set to low or medium tone.
Tone 3 is set at 14 through 17 (Pulltab & junk range). Set to low or medium tone.
Tone 4 is set at 18 through 22 (IHP and Zinc penny range). Set to low or medium tone.
Tone 5 is set at 23 through 40 (Silver coin range). Set this to maximum pitch (25) to make targets in the silver zone scream!
-Recovery Speed: 7 (adjust to match the site you’re detecting).
-In advanced Recovery settings, Iron Bias: 3
-Leave Frequency on Multi.

Modes: I really like Park 2 (with the modifications shown above). I’ve tried each one in my test bed and for the type of hunting I do Park 2 just seems to work best. From what I understand Park 2 and Field 2 use a slightly different variation of frequencies. In my tests, they do seem to hit lower conductors better and get a little better separation. I don’t do any beach hunting or gold prospecting so I can’t speak on how those modes perform on their intended purposes.

Also, just a quick note concerning the iron bias setting.. I’m sure some new users have noticed that a lot of us have taken a liking to Park 2. So if you decide to start out with that one, remember the default iron bias setting for Park 2 is 0. Some folks can run it at 0 without any issues but for someone new to the machine you might find yourself digging a bunch of rusty nails and other junk. If you find yourself ready to wrap your new Equinox around a tree, try bumping up the iron bias to 2 or 3. This will cut down on the amount of sweet sounding iron considerably.

Pinpointing: It took me a while to get used to pinpointing with the Nox. Seems like even deeper targets sound off loud like they’re right on the surface.

*One thing I’d really like to see on any future versions of this detector is auto-ratcheting pinpointing. I’ve gotten used to this on the CTX and it makes pinpointing so much quicker and easier.

Depth: The Nox is not lacking anything in the depth department. I tested it on several targets. Its on par with the CTX on high conductors and deeper than the CTX on small low conductors.

Speed: Its fast. Ridiculously fast. Recovery speed is on par with the Deus.

Headphones: I really like the bluetooth headphones that come with the 800. No noticable latency. I guess comfort is subjective depending on the size of your ears and noggin, but to me they’re very comfortable. Not too big, not too small. I haven’t tried the WM08 module. Haven’t had any need for it yet.

Build Quality: It feels like a quality unit. I’ve heard some folks are having issues with the twist locks on the shaft but mine have been holding up OK so far. Its way too early to report on overall durability at this point, but so far so good.

User Manual: Excellent! I know some users are complaining about not having a paper manual included with the detector but the online version is fine by me. They did a great job with the manual as far as I’m concerned. Everything is covered in detail with images. Outstanding.

So whats so great about Multi-IQ?: The way I see it, Multi-IQ offers a few advantages. The two most important to me being:

1) The Nox is able to hit targets surrounded by iron AND give a proper ID. The Deus is able to hit these targets as well, but the ID is pulled down by the surrounding ferrous items. With the lower scratchy tone and ID, whether to dig or not becomes questionable. Especially on small targets and low conductors. On these same targets, the Equinox ID and tone is pretty much unchanged by the ferrous surrounding it. It may drop a little, but is still right in the acceptable digging zone.

2) Since the detector is running multiple frequencies simultaneously, its able to detect a wide range of targets from high conductors down to the tiniest low conductors without the need to switch frequencies. With other select-able frequency detectors (one frequency at a time) you have to select a frequency that matches the type of target you’re hunting. If you tune for high conductors, you’ll miss some low conductors. If you tune for low conductors, you lose performance on high conductors. Calabash Digger did a great job demonstrating this in his videos. Also want to thank tnsharpshooter for all of the testing he’s done.

Equinox vs CTX vs Deus: I will be keeping my CTX 3030. There’s just something special about FBS. IMHO Etrac & CTX are still the kings of accurate ID and unmistakable tones on deep targets. Sometimes I like to go out and do some selective digging so the 3030 still has a place in my line up.

As for the Deus, I’ll probably end up selling it. Mostly because I use it for the same type of hunting scenarios as the Equinox, and I feel like the Nox offers everything the Deus does, and a little more (simultaneous multi frequency and waterproof).

Does the Equinox make all single frequency detectors obsolete?: Nah. Your other detectors will continue to make finds just as they always have. BUT, as it stands right now no other detector can tick all of the same boxes as the Equinox. For the type of hunting I do, if I were in the market for a new detector in the $600-$900 price range the Minelab Equinox would be my choice hands down.

Light Weight – check
Fast Recovery Speed – check
Waterproof – check
Simultaneous multi frequency – check
Wireless headphones – check (included with the 800)
Customizable – check
Updatable – check
Reasonably priced – check

What other detector in the $500-$1000 price range can match everything on the list above? Hell, what other detector in any price range can match all of those features? I can’t think of a single one. So what does that mean for other manufacturers? IMHO it means they’ll either have to lower prices on current units and/or step up their game by coming up with something better. Both of which is good news for us!


My Equinox 800 YouTube Vids:

Minelab Equinox 800 Metal Detector Available on Amazon

Final Thoughts: Its a great machine. Not perfect. It does have some flaws which I highlighted above but overall its hard to complain about what this detector offers, especially at its price point. I would like to see modulation and overload added. Maybe we’ll see an Equinox 1500 with some of these improvements? Who knows.

So there you have it. My thoughts on the new Equinox after 50 hours of use. I have no ties with Minelab and whether or not you buy this detector doesn’t effect me what-so-ever. Everything mentioned above is just my opinion. YMMV.

GUEST POST: By Dewayne Parrish aka Rattlehead

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