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Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)

Posted by Des D 
Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 15, 2018 06:56PM
Minelab Equinox 600 Review by Desi Dunne

In September 2017, Minelab literally dropped ‘a bombshell’ on the detecting world when a sky diver parachuted from a plane carrying the new Minelab Equinox detector that drove the hobby into a frenzy! As I write almost a year on, the frenzy is still very much ongoing as Minelab seek to fulfill the huge demand for the Equinox 800 and Equinox 600 detector’s, the 800 being the top of the range and is just becoming available in sufficient numbers.
It is another radical departure for Minelab who want to provide new technology in a lightweight package and that they have delivered in spades. The new technology is called, “Multi IQ” (Intelligent Quotient) and it’s essentially their patented ‘multi frequency‘ in a ‘single frequency‘ platform, a combination of FBS & VFLEX with the added bonus of being able to work in up to 5 separate frequencies all at the same time, or pick a single frequency should you want. These are, 5kHz, 10kHz, 15kHz, 20kHz & 40kHz
There are some differences between the two detectors with the Equinox 800 having the most advanced settings over the Equinox 600

Packaging

It’s a top opening box and the shipping carton is up to their usual high standard and is very colorful with lots of ‘tech spec’ and photos embossed onto the box. The custom ‘egg box’ type of cardboard holds the various components securely and it is all very well thought out. Everything is in its own place and the rods are stored in ‘rod shaped’ recesses length ways. Headphones and cables are in a cardboard box and the coil is secured in nicely. Some paperwork is present.

Instruction Manual

There is no instruction manual nor a CD (as per CTX) The Instruction Manual is available as a download. It consists of 69 pages. It’s in colour and very well laid out, easy to follow with easy to understand descriptive terms. It describes some fabulous audio options namely a wireless WM08 audio module, ML80 wireless headphones but these are only available on the higher spec 800 model. The 600 is supplied with a pair of wired headphones with a 1/8” size jackplug. It might contain a minor error: Page 48 - Adjusting 50 Tones - should read: ‘The ferrous setting cannot be a higher number than the non-ferrous setting” Included also is a very handy “Getting Started Guide”, a foldable document that can be easily carried in a pocket to refer to in the field.

Build

It comprises a three piece shaft system with the control pod atop the upper handle area. A metal middle shaft pairs to a plastic lower rod. A two-piece arm rest complete with arm strap and two velcro straps completes the build and it’s a doddle to assemble. The coil is an 11” Double D complete with skid plate and unusually for Minelab the coil cable runs outside the shafts which is a departure from the usual contained inside the shafts.
Interestingly, they didn’t go ‘wireless’ as in not having a coil cable. Had they done so, then it would have been more expensive to purchase. The coil has six ‘cross struts’ that offer good rigidity and it can help greatly to reduce coil winding movement when running across stubble rows and uneven areas with obstacles and helps to minimise erratic noise. Once assembled it feels good but the twist lock mechanisms feel as if there should be more turns in them.The ‘ergonomics’ are good and it’s easy to swing but if assembled to full length then it becomes a little ‘nose heavy’. I prefer S bend systems which are more comfortable to swing. Despite it’s lightness I still preferred to be tied in with the provided arm strap.

Power

Another radical departure from the norm is Minelab’s first use of a sealed Lithium-ion battery. This
is inside the handle and can be serviced/replaced by the owner.

The detectors are supplied with a USB charging cable that features a snap-on magnetic connector. This mates to connecting pins on the rear of the control pod. It’s safe to use underwater. Charge time from flat can take up to four hours. If not in use for a long time Minelab recommend to charge once every 3 - 4 months.
Run time of the detector is up to 12 hours and that might vary depending on the individual’s use of the Backlight and when using the low frequency options. The use of 5kHz in particular can reduce battery life. If the battery goes flat in the field it can be recharged in a vehicle but there is also more innovation allowing the use of a Power Bank that can be plugged into the Equinox so you can continue detecting even if the detector battery is flat. The power bank can be attached to the arm rest stand and how that is done I am not entirely sure?
A blinking light means charging is required.

Headphones

The headphones supplied with the 600 are what I would consider of a fragile nature and when opening them I heard a loud ‘crack’ sound as they unfolded. No, I didn’t break them. They are a shiny ‘piano black’ color with the red Minelab branded onto them. The cushions look deceptively ‘high end’ but aren’t. Sound quality is basic and not in any way ‘bass like’ and there isn’t any volume control on the cable. I listened to them while ‘bench testing’ the machine but never took them outside. They wouldn’t hold up. I used ‘Sennheisser 238’s’ and sometimes none at all.
I experimented with the ‘Garrett Z-Lynk’ but didn’t have an appropriate adaptor to plug into the Equinox but I am positive they are compatible.

Control Pod Layout, Display & Functions

The actual control box (pod) layout is very good and one of the best designs from Minelab. It’s very easy to see (and film) and the backlight is very bright. A small gripe is the backlight isn’t adjustable on the 600 model - it’s either on or off.
There is much empty ‘real estate’ on the Display screen and I think they could have populated it more with one or two extra functions e.g. an FE3o4 ground conditions display that would remain on always and what most people would have preferred, an actual FE / CO readout: instead we get just the CO (conductive) portion. However, the display is easy to get used to and is easy to navigate. The ‘Depth Indicator’ is modeled on the X-Terra and isn’t always accurate, especially on small shallow targets (low conductive foil or aluminum fragments) that can misidentify as deep. The infamous two black dots that appear screen center instead of a TID are also taken from X- Terra and are meant to indicate ‘an insignificant’ target. When they are lit, the target signal that was initially heard can vanish completely or can create short broken ferrous sounds if you don’t switch from Disc Mode to All Metal. Once in All Metal the low audio of ferrous can sound off.
There are 2 layers to the function buttons on the Equinox front panel display. A long press of the Settings button brings up the Advanced settings. In my opinion a trick was missed here because there isn’t a ‘back button’ and there is endless scrolling forwards thru the Menu to get back to where you want. The original Explorer XS had a back button that took you back 2 steps. For exanple, if you are in Multi and want to check a signal in 5kHz you advance the Detect button and once that’s done and you want to go back to Multi, you cannot and have to continue scrolling thru the other options. The same applies to the Search Modes, you have to scroll thru them all if you overshoot which is easy to do. Another gripe would be the multiple use of some icons, namely the ‘speaker icon’ for 3 separate audio functions, Volume, Threshold, Tones and the use of the same ‘coil’ icon for Recovery and Iron Bias. To the novice or a poor sighted person it would be very easy to adjust the wrong thing and blissfully carry on with incorrect settings.

Portability

I found it one of the best and easiest detectors to assemble and break down into various Minelab carry bags and transport into and out of the sites visited. Hiking and cycling into sites the detector was easily fitted into the longer Minelab backpack and for carrying it completely assembled to sites I could drive into, the large padded black bag was great as it had the side pocket to hold gloves, pin pointer and other things. From scratch it could be assembled in thirty seconds and broken down just as quick when ready to leave.

Bench Tests

I’d recommend to anyone no matter their experience to spend a while bench testing their Equinox detector before taking out. Some of what you see might surprise you. For example, the amount of metal targets that drive the TID’s from 12 - 19 is a large proportion of everyday finds e.g. gold coins, gold rings, pull tabs, rings, cupro nickle coinage, crown bottle tops to the point that to use any form of discrimination in the MID LEVEL target range will cause missed targets.
Silver coins will drive higher TID’s e.g. 23 - 33 while copper and bronze coins gave what I would consider disappointingly low TID’s e.g. a 1931 Irish ‘chicken’ penny - 23 On most other target ID detectors both copper and silver coins produce higher value target ID’s (MX Sport for example)
U.S. nickels - the V nickel gave readouts of 12: an Indian head penny 19: a 1961 silver quarter 31: a 2015 quarter 29: a 1944 Barber dime 26: a 1920 Wheat penny 23 Canadian coins responded ‘best’ in Multi & 15kHz. Comparing it directly to the “White’s MX Sport”, copper coinage such as Wheat pennies hit in the 70’s TID range while lower grade V nickels hit between 18-20
I think the MX Sport has the greater resolution despite the way the information is shown as both detectors use the ‘horse shoe’ target ID shape. I can’t see the reasoning why Minelab didn’t utilise a more expanded TID range unless the ‘Safari’ model supplied the +40 target ID range which, the Equinox shares?
The audio responses of bench test targets was at times mixed, for example two or three tones - a medium and a high and a partial ferrous tone as well. This was particularly the case with ‘bi-metal’ coins: these have a silver band outside and a yellow gold middle e.g the two euro and one euros. One major surprise was with coins tested both flat and on edge.
A 50c euro coin gave 21/22 on east west / west east sweeps and when turned on edge the TID’s moved up to higher digits, 24 / 25 and the audio became mixed while the TID dropped to single digits and were all over the place from las ow as 8 to high at 24/25 The front and back of the coil hit coins well but in the centre and in the inner areas there was a definite ‘null’ in detection.
Switching to the single frequencies the issue increased as with 5kHz there was a big drop in detection to a total null when the coin was passed across the coil on edge. It was the same in the other 10 and 15kHz frequencies.
When I hand scanned a series of coins held against small, medium and large rusty nails and an iron bolt (naturally found targets from previous detectors) there was a blanking in some instances when passed across the coil in various search settings and in different frequencies. I thought the original ‘Racer’ from Makro had the edge here when I carried out the same air tests? If you had set Recovery to 3 (it’s maximum on the 600 = 6 on the 800) and did this test the coin might be missed because faster detection comes at the expense of sensitivity.

My tests showed the following TID’s on mixed targets:
Gold coins & rings - 14 - 18
Euros - 19 - 23
Large silver coins - 31 - 33
Medium silver - 26 - 27
Small silver - 19 - 21 (the same as the 10c euro coin)
Large copper - 23 - 28
Small copper - 19 - 21 - 23
Tiny gold coin - 4 (iffy response)
Tiny gold ear ring - 20/21/22 (a surprisingly high TID value)
Lead shot - 17 - 19
Hammered silver coins - 10/11/12/13/14/15/16/17/18/ - 25

Small meteorite about one inch in size - low iron sound TDI 2 in 15kHz only
Coke (charcoal stones) low iron sound TID 1
Heavy coke - dip in Threshold no TID
Magnetic stones as found on beaches with other detectors - 16/17
It was an eye-opening experience.

Part 2

Target ID stability

Provided the hits (in ground) were good the TID’s usually remained at the best value e.g. a 10c Euro coin - 19 There was some fluctuation with other targets and showed a few TID’s for example, a target might show 19,20,21 for a worn copper coin. I can’t say that target signals were always ‘good and tight’, they weren’t. Some coins sounded broad with a very slight ferrous signature and could easily be mistaken for non coin targets. Euros were prone to this and it’s probably due to their make up which is a mix of a few metal types: 75% copper, 20% zinc, and 5% nickel.
I’m thinking Minelab used existing code from the X-Terra’s “Coins Plus” Target Stability Mode because this function when turned on usually gives a more distinct TID readout to just one or two ID’s e.g. 22, 23 instead of 19, 22, 23 28 and so on. The blurb for this function on the X-Terra was something along these lines: “The target ID stabilizer on the X-Terra 70, uses a special Filter specifically designed for high mineralisation which makes a better decision on the type of target that is in the ground. The result of this is a more consistent ID on targets that you may have overlooked as junk”
So their new IQ algorithims that allows the Multi Frequency to go deeper than the X-Terra, coupled with a filter that allows more accurate and consistent target ID readouts is one of the most important advances that sets the Equinox apart even when comparing it to their own detectors.

EMI

Strangely enough, I didn’t get much! If I did just two button pushes to reduce sensitivity took care of it without having to electronically noise cancel. On sites with poles and pylons with power lines running across was usually where most EMI was heard and it wasn’t usually possible to run at Sensitivity 25 - a reduction to 22 or 20 usually settled things down. It was more prone to receive mild EMI in the Multi Mode (where most of the power is) compared to the single frequencies. However, I usually ran a Noise Cancel when setting up afresh at a new site. I usually didn’t when changing frequencies - didn’t see any point. Contrary to what I had seen on the Internet, my phone didn’t seem to bother the Equinox no matter which mode the phone was in. The Auto function of the detector is very quick and efficient.

Beach Use

The beach test results weren’t too bad at all. I took the Equinox to a number of regular test beaches and put it thru its paces. A drawback was it was April and therefore out of season so I was then chasing older finds, last year’s drops and so on. I did the usual ‘dip the coil’ in the waves and increased sensitivity and it was all very normal. Switching to all metal the sensitivity had to be reduced from full 25 back to around 22 to 20 to totally quieten the detector. This was good. I didn’t submerge it as I didn’t have the proper headphones and it was very early into the testing and I didn’t want to risk any damage.
Working along the wet sand ‘flats’, I made numerous adjustments to every single option choice and sensitivity levels. I stopped numerous times and experimented with ground balancing the detector and that was a frustrating exercise. I really couldn’t walk forward without false signalling and I finally reset the GB to the 0 setting as recommended. As I was not in the water I stuck to Beach 1again as recommended by the Instruction manual. Tracking GB can be advantageous on the beach, particularly over the wet stuff, but I didn’t use it.

I did find numerous targets that were mostly of a scrap metal nature both small and larger pieces. I should mention one thing that I couldn’t help noticing: the detector appeared to really like ‘longer and thinner pieces’, and, this was noticeable both from the beaches and inland. I’m specifically talking about various metal composites from two to four inches in length and a half an inch in diameter. I’m talking items longer and thinner than bullets and perhaps hollow in the middle? I found quite a few ‘long pieces’ during the testing process. I remember field testing a ‘Garrett Freedom 2’ many years ago and it too ‘liked’ long targets (think pens and stuff)

Most targets registered with good sounds and solid target ID’s. The further out I went to the tide line the ‘blipping’ increased as I deduced two issues here: (i) the Recovery had to be adjusted up to it’s maximum 3 to help eliminate an actual signal sound when the coil extended fully left (ii) the second was the coil is so sensitive that it’s sideways detection can be just as sensitive as the original Explorer. In essence, the coil was sensitive enough to react to the the metal eyelets in my old Timberland boots as I walked on the sand from easily over a foot away. I had to set the Recovery to 3 and that impacted sensitivity to small items and a somewhat reduced ultimate depth. To help eliminate the over sensitivity I had to extend the shaft system and make the detector longer and then had to change my ‘stance’ and hold the detector out with a straight arm. It was uncomfortable as I was then walking sideways.
It wasn’t the best arrangement and I found myself heading back towards the semi wet sand area.

On semi-wet sand the Equinox 600 was very good and I dug deeper than usual and found a few very small coins. I had been over the same areas a few times in recent months with a few other machines and came up empty handed on those occasions bar one or two coins from a soft shingle patch that always gave up at least one coin.
All the coins dug were out of range of my pin pointer and all had loud VCO pin point audio sounds from the detector. Most showed solid TID’s with the exception of coins on edge and then there were ‘four blips’ as the coil travelled across the edge and put up erroneous TID’s. Speeding up the Recovery didn’t seem to make a difference on the sand, nor was there any audio change from different sweep directions.
It was stable enough but not in any way as smooth as say an E Trac would be. Small copper decimal coins and low grade five pence coins caused a two tone response and this was due to the preset tone break being set at 10 on the TID range. That puzzled me as one coin in particular first showed 19 but then changed down to 10 and 11. That was the preset tone break point. Once I had figured out what was happening it didn’t bother me after that. Another anomaly that I found a bit strange was when switching to pin point the audio was low and would then suddenly spring back to life with full volume. Should it be this way? It didn’t bother me either as I found the pin pointing to be very precise anyway.

Inland

It was here that the Equinox 600 was of most value to me and I used it on a variety of sites old and new to gain a better understanding of it’s features and how they could be of benefit to me. Some sites were better experiences than others. For example, a very well searched test farm site I’ve been hunting for many years and weeks before my Equinox arrived, wasn’t giving up much. But the 600 did locate and very easily too I’d have to say, some very nice targets including a gorgeous half buckle from the 17th century and gave a very stable audio, a TID of 16 that didn’t budge either up or down! Days earlier I had covered the same ground and had been missed by a Deus, another XP, the ADX150 and an E Trac. I know it for a fact because I was following track marks left by a vehicle and the ridges were my markers. But then it all stopped. For three days afterwards it didn’t make many recoveries. If I did they were usually junk, lengths of wire for example and an occasional scrap lead piece. The targets just weren’t there and no detector in the world could manufacture finds if they are not there to be found. I was also running out of time because they had begun to plough and day by day my available fields ran out. Ah well, there’s always next season!

A pasture site that had been one of the primary testing sites for both E Trac and CTX, it wasn’t too happy with an over abundance of deep iron set into stony soil. This is a difficult site to work and it
produces ferrous responses almost constantly. It’s medieval in origin and it’s seen continuous use right up to the 19th century where any signs of past activity ceased. It’s a dairy farm today. Targets dug here didn’t exceed the ‘usual’ eight inches for non ferrous whereas it did signal deeper ferrous. It also registered several ‘straight’ pieces of non ferrous junk and some old plastic coated wiring that gave unusual signal responses. Many small ointment tubes were dug as they registered with both low audio tones and TID’s leading me to think they were going to be coins. The tubes had contained different medicines to treat the cattle for various conditions. Three worn copper half pennies and a welcome farthing coin surfaced but any detector would have got them as they weren’t particularly challenging at all - 7” deep at most.
On a different old field still in long stubble and with electrical pylons going through I retained the same settings because there didn’t seem much point in changing them. However, I did noise cancel and reduced the sensitivity to 16 because reachable targets wouldn’t be that deep as this field gets turned over every year. Sometimes they are just out of view or surface finds. If you don’t find something today you will when you return the following year. Its the normal cycle of working ploughed fields.

Two worn copper coins surfaced with decent enough signals and good TID’s. One had been above iron because I heard two signals. After recovering the coin I chased the iron sound and a flat plate about four by four inches surfaced from the 10” level. From memory I think my settings were:

Field 2
Multi
50 Tones
Sensitivity 18
Volume 25
Threshold 6
Recovery 1
Iron Bias 0
TID’s 1 & 2 accepted

Nearby, a soft tone with a TID of 9 produced what I thought was a silver coin but turned out to be a broken ‘tombac’ button (a brass alloy with high copper)

A construction site was a wonderful opportunity to see what the detector could do and it didn’t disappoint in the finds recovered but left a somewhat underwhelming impression about its performance. It was stable but I couldn’t describe it as being anyway smooth, Around 20” inches of soil had been removed from a few strips of land and the non ferrous targets recovered would have been up to two feet deep had the soil not been removed. There wasn’t anything in the way of interference present but the detector clearly wasn’t happy operating in Multi Mode. A lot of white granite rock was visible and the soil was damp just below the surface. Rocks and stones can also unsettle the E Trac threshold on beaches, so it looks like an FBS operational trait.
Reducing both sensitivity and noise canceling helped a bit. I offset the preset 0 GB setting and ground balanced to various points both manually and by Auto GB means but eventually reverted to the preset level. I’m thinking the preset GB of 0 has been rigidly defined by the design team as being best to cope with mineralisation and to deviate from that causes problems. However, there will be times when the preset just isn’t suitable and sometimes I chose to ignore the advice and set my own ground balance settings. So I chose to work in single frequencies of 5kHz & 10kHz to look for ‘clean sounding’ signals. This was a useful strategy as it produced ‘cleaner’ hits without the extra ‘micro phantom’ sounds I was hearing. The only thing was, some of the non ferrous targets also had a ferrous signal portion as well but when dug were clearly non ferrous. A nice thimble was dug with some ferrous tone to it and an old spoon handle that definitely did sound ‘dirty?’ That’s because it appeared to be made from a few different metals and some of it had leached away, the softer lead component.
The bronze element sounded ‘good’ while the decomposing lead portion sounded ‘ferrous/non ferrous’.

But, praise to my Equinox here in Multi Mode because it found me my first ever ‘pipe tamper’, that I mistook as a copper nail! It was long, thin and had a green patina. Remember I said it appears to favor long thin items?

In Multi Mode it also located a beautiful condition copper coin reading 19/21 with a medium tone dated 1694.
These finds were a huge surprise because I had tested the ‘Tesoro Mojave’ a year before and had also run another detector there a few weeks before and they had been completely missed and had been easy targets really at just beneath the surface.

I also visited one of my very well established test sites that is very contaminated with iron, coke and other low grade conductors such as foil and ring pulls and all manner of other non ferrous trash. Difficult to work here and it’s even harder to find anything non ferrous that remains after working the site for the thirty years that I have.
The very first signal was ‘good’ and so was the meter reading. However, the Pro Find 35 ‘suggested’ ferrous? After a shallow dig, a length of chain consisting of about nine inch and a half length links came out of the hole. Two noteworthy points here: clearly the detector had been fooled: second, the Equinox 600 was the very first detector used there that actually did produce a ‘dig me’ signal. Every other detector had either blanked out or overloaded on this target. I never realised it was there. Speaking of overload, the Equinox 600 doesn’t have this feature in Park & Field Modes. It does in Beach Mode where the Tx power can be reduced for a short period. I never witnessed it happening on the beaches I was on but they weren’t of the heavy black sand variety. Having an overload function where the Rx signal becomes so strong, usually an indicator of ‘large junk = iron’, can be of great benefit. That’s probably why I recovered so many other ferrous targets that ‘sounded good’. Had an overload sounded, then I would have been warned that those targets might be junk? Then, the thing to do would have been increase the Iron Bias and adjust Recovery to suss the targets but, as they sounded so positive with mid teen digits I didn’t feel I had to? More signals also turned out to be rusted nails, straight and bent and a square plate measuring around 2.5” x 2.5” or larger (disposed and not measured)

Some of the time (and I haven’t seen any mention of this anywhere) I got a vibration effect from the handle that allowed me to guesstimate depth. I’m not speaking about the ‘Makro Racer Vibration’ feature but I was very definitely feeling the entire handle area was alive with sensation even through the gloves I was wearing for protection.
I found it useful at times. I don’t know whether this was just my detector or because I had wrapped it in protective ‘Gorilla’ tape that was assisting the channelling of signals but, as I said, no one has reported it as far as I know?

Sometimes I was able to ‘cross check’ signals with an X-Terra 705 and a number of times the Equinox definitely declared non ferrous signals with good audio and numbers and the X-Terra either ‘nulled out’ completely or gave broken up scratchy signals with negative numbers e.g. minus 4.
Both detectors had been accurately ground balanced to the sites and the actual GB numbers weren’t too far apart. For example, X-Terra was 35 while the Equinox was 42 or so. The ferrous discrimination was particularly better and more accurate with the X-Terra on crown bottle caps and round shaped dense iron objects two inches and larger. Even in All Metal the discrimination on the X-Terra was more accurate than the Equinox also set to All Metal and making adjustments to both Recovery and Iron Bias shortened the sounds a tad but failed to accurately show the targets were indeed of the ferrous variety.
I had several other detectors to compare with but weather was my enemy as it was extremely wet and windy during the testing period.

Part 3

Recognising iron

As alluded to above the Equinox isn’t totally accurate about discovering the ferrous nature of ferrous targets. Having said that, it is adept on short or no grass farm fields where it does ‘null and blip’ on a lot of old nails and other smaller than finger size very rusted pieces of metal. It’s almost ‘E Trac like’ here in the manner of how it does this. Often, it will register ‘a hit’ and by the time you re-sweep no signal ensues. But, many ferrous hits will register with an audio - high and/or low tones and then blank out. This facet of its operation is therefore good and easy to understand. Completely rusted iron is quite different from only partially rusted iron, because the former does not conduct electricity, so it does not behave like a ferrous metal. It is more like highly mineralised rocks (hot rocks)

So, depending on how you have set up the first quarter of left hand side of the Target ID scale can determine how much iron will sound off without ever making any adjustments to Iron Bias. Setting a high Iron Bias will quieten most iron sounds but then many of us do actually ‘like to’ hear the ferrous reporting as we can ‘gauge’ the site’s potential by the amount of ferrous heard.
So what happens when the Equinox 600 meets an iron target that it can’t correctly classify? Quite a few things occur actually. The Target ID’s will show ‘positive’ e.g. 16 for a beer bottle top, or even higher for large round ‘cigar’ shape pieces.

The first thing that should be done is to switch to All Metal, scan and listen and watch for jumping target ID numbers. If a target still ‘sounds & looks good’, then next thing is to swivel your feet and come at it from another direction. It might ‘null out’ or blank momentarily? It might not? You can also ‘manipulate’ the coil around the target and hope for a nulling at some stage.
The AT Max is very good at this.
The audio can sound ‘broad’ and wider than coin size and more often than not will drop down in tone on a Right to Left sweep. This is quite dramatic. You don’t have to be a trained musician to be able to hear this nuance. It can sound like ‘a bong’ (think Garrett’s bell tone here but not quite so dramatic) and is often a longer detection with a long decay time.
This is perhaps the best give away of an iron target. If you change to a single frequency to double check the target as some have said checking in 10kHz will cause the TID’s to increase in an erratic fashion?
It’s true that will happen but it won’t happen all the time due to the many different types of bottle caps out there on the thousands of different products available all around the world and how decomposed they are? In 5kHz in particular what you might hear is a type of ‘sonar’ sound (think submarine here) and this sounds high in pitch, slightly extended with an echo in the tail off. It’s very distinctive and in my opinion is the best assist.
However, the overload function will not kick in or be of any use here unless you happen to be working in Beach Modes inland which is perfectly feasible. Even then I don’t know if it would trigger the Overload on large metal? Another option is to change Tones: 1 or 2 Tones might be best at determining whether its iron or not? In my opinion, they missed another trick here and instead of having 1, 2 and 5 tones, it would have been a better detector had they set 3 and 4 tone options as per X-Terra and dispensed with the excessive 5 tones: we’ve seen X-Terra is better at recognising difficult ferrous pieces.

Equinox 600 limitations

The not so obvious issue of Recovery does come into play here and one might imagine that it’s not such a big deal but it is. There will be plenty of times you would like the 600 to ‘react faster’ than it is capable of to help assist with gleaning as much information from a target as possible. The Equinox 800 has eight separate recovery speeds whereas the 600 model has just three. In certain scenarios having fewer speeds could be of benefit and could help recover a shallow target that the faster speeds of the 800 might not register because at the very beginning of this review I mentioned that “faster detection speed can come at the expense of sensitivity”

Another important limitation of the Equinox 600 is the Tone Volume has just one adjustment i.e. the ferrous area. The iron volume can be lowered or increased and that is it. The other ‘bins’ cannot be adjusted. Tone Pitch is also very limiting and as a result can be a frustrating experience on very trash filled sites because the tones of the various trash targets cannot be adjusted to stand out and alert.

The Tone Break is another Advanced feature that is not available on the 600. Though a relatively new feature on the latest crop of detectors, it is a great asset to have to gain better distinction between targets of similar conductivities e.g. ring pulls and pull tabs, low grade coins etc.

The backlight is either on or off. While the screen is very easy to see (much improved over the CTX) some of the time it will be necessary to have the light on and that will draw down the battery at a rate of around 3% over not having it on. This will result in fewer detecting hours, having to recharge more often thereby lessening the shelf life of the 3.7V battery that’s located in the handle. It may have to be replaced sooner than your Equinox 800 battery?

Also, as discussed previously, the Iron Bias adjustment is dramatically less than the Equinox 800 and can be a reason why the 600 might have a higher detection rate of unwanted ferrous targets. For example: Iron Bias increments Equinox 800 = 9: Equinox 600 = 3

The 600 does not have the Gold Modes and in my opinion is one of the most desirable features to have as I found the Gold Prospecting Mode of the X-Terra 70 and 705 to be fabulous ace cards to have that can help identity ‘iffy’ targets and at times if patience allowed it, to search for small coins in soft soil situations, especially if a few stray coins of the same type might point to a cache? While the 600 does have Tracking Ground Balance, it’s not that important because you don’t have the gold modes it was designed for.
The User Profile feature is not in the 600 and this too can be classed as a disadvantage particularly if you would like to be able to instantly select another program to double check a target. You can’t. So there’s the endless scrolling through the menu with endless button pushing.

The Equinox 600 is also the small brother in the audio department as it isn’t supplied with the WM08 wireless module or the ML80 wireless headphones.
The final downside to the 600 is you cannot utilize the ‘higher frequencies’ 20kHz & 40kHz, to seek out very small low conductive targets that are typical finds in certain geographic locations e.g. U.K. Europe. The above description of the gold modes is also applicable here.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Equinox 600 is very much on the right track in what we want in a detector: fast, responsive, intuitive and versatile with some very useful innovative features. Add the frequency options to the mix and it is a very slick machine compared to many others at the same price point. Some of the time it can be tricky to use, and it’s not as easy to live with as say an AT Pro which is exactly the same price.
OK, it’s smarter than that but I’d prefer an easier life.

I don’t want to spend time second guessing signals and switching modes and settings and endlessly pressing buttons to get back for the want of a ‘back’ button.
It’s iron recognition can be undependable. Perhaps the tester’s recognised this and the Iron Bias was created to help tackle it? Some blame can be put on the too tight arrangement of the target ID range because they are grouped so tightly together. Case in point, bottle tops. A lot of targets fall into the low teens (12) to high teens (19) and a wider spread e.g. 0-90 could help eliminate some of the problem.
It has not made my X-Terra obsolete: it can identify some iron faster and that is their own technology!
I feel had they kept it a secret until the day of release it could have been a much better detector overall in the scheme of things.

However, I would have no hesitation recommending the Equinox 600 to the ‘Sunday searcher’ or indeed anyone who wants to have such ‘Pro’ features, professional performance, versatility and all in a lightweight easy to use all day package. This detector is another first class and innovative offering from Minelab.

I’d like to try an Equinox 800 next fall when my best fields open up.

© Desi Dunne June 2018



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/15/2018 07:02PM by Des D.
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 15, 2018 07:42PM
Very detailed and layed out nicely.
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 15, 2018 08:36PM
I had an 800 and sold it to a friend for list. I got a good deal on a 600. I am in near complete agreement with Des D’s conclusions.

Minelab made a dramatic and daring move to put this much capability into a $600 -$900 machine. My take is that it was an act of near desperation as far as the US market goes. They probably correctly analyzed the backlog of ML fans sitting with money in the bank (or credit card) and - from their point of view, nothing to buy. They also looked at their recent sales statistics in the US - fairly recently, the head of Minelab North America departed.

So they took a project that was mostly done - staged a huge PR launch, and then found that careful testers (who are still muzzled by non-disclosure) pointed out issues. Late revisions to programming have been documented. This clearly delayed the launch. Other issues couldn’t be fixed.

No detector is perfect. It is good value for the price, multifrequency and water resistant - a unique combo at this price point - unique - for now.

A pity they couldn’t have worked on it another 6 months or a year, but maybe they realized that in a year it might not be unique?

Rick Kempf
Gold Canyon AZ- where there is no gold



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/15/2018 09:05PM by lytle78.
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 15, 2018 08:36PM
Thanks Des that's a good read, and lot's of useful info for myself as i'm only a week in with the 800.
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 15, 2018 09:56PM
I was wondering when id see this Des. Good write up. You still going to do some U-tube stuff on the machine? One thing thou...... had they went the route of the Deus with a wireless coil..... how would it have worked at 3 meters? I wished you had the place to do some salt water testing as well.... especially on small gold. By the way...... it seems if the OVERLOAD symbol comes on in the salt water..... it wont go off. No problem in the wet sand or dry. Take a look at page 25 and tell me what that would mean if you are neck deep and cant see the screen.
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 16, 2018 12:23AM
Thanks Des for the detailed review. Have an E-800 arriving in a few days and look forward to learning the machine.
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 16, 2018 12:43AM
Thank you very much for the detailed informative and entertaining review. Well done and appreciated.

Up to my ____ in Pulltabs, Grant
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 16, 2018 01:21AM
Very good report. Thanks for the time and effort.
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 16, 2018 04:23AM
Thanks for the review. But that handle vibration mention has me puzzled. Does the Nox have a vibration feature? I haven't found it...
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 16, 2018 01:22PM
Wow DD. Very well written. I guess we are on opposite ends of the "earths magnetic field" on this one. smileys with beer
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 16, 2018 01:38PM
Imparting ones hard gained knowledge to others,for free, is the epitome of selflessness.
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 16, 2018 03:43PM
hey Des, I think the vibrating handle is akin to dowsing and is really your mind picking something up and your body (hand) vibrates along with it!
it's the culmination of mind over matter and your many years in the industry. good review, and can't believe you'd spend 3 days at a 'dead' site, incredible patience there that I don't have. cheers (I pretty much use my 800 as a turn on and go machine, don't even ground balance, and do well with it. I don't futz with settings at all, I don't pinpoint either, simply dig if I get the 'sense', haha)
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
June 16, 2018 07:08PM
Nice thorough read Des!!

Yes you would appreciate the 800 with the prospecting mode over the 600 if you like it on the 705!

Keith

“I don't care that they stole my idea . . I care that they don't have any of their own”
-Nikola Tesla
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
July 11, 2018 10:36PM
Well done Des, Impressive report, seems like the 600 is almost but not quite, And I agree, That prospecting mode should be standard on any new detector as 99% of folks want to find Gold. there is loads of good info there that I think people are going to read more than once.

thanks for making the effort.
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
July 13, 2018 02:04PM
Thanks for taking time to read it! It is long!

A few 'typos/errors'
I said: Euro coins have silver colouring outside and gold middles!
Should be: Gold color outside and silver coloured centres.
As the New UK £1 coin & the Canadian Toonie!

I've heard the new British Pound £ coin 'hits well' @ TID 16
Not sure where / if the 'Toonies' hit?'

I didn't cover actual manual coil sweeping speed in the Review.

It's effective either fast or slow but, it can't be 'whipped'
Your wrist will twist off if you try it for extended periods.
Some folks like 'to coil whip' when covering a large area with the less likelihood of detecting many targets?
It's an effective strategy when 'ground sampling' a new site for example?

Much experimenting was done using various coil sweep speeds and a fast sweep can work with a slow Recovery rate and similarly a slow sweep can be effective with a faster Recovery rate.
As the 'Equinox 600', has just 3 Recovery Speeds, it wasn't possible to test beyond that level.

Des D
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
July 13, 2018 02:31PM
Des D Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks for taking time to read it! It is long!
>
> A few 'typos/errors'
> I said: Euro coins have silver colouring outside a
> nd gold middles!
> Should be: Gold color outside and silver coloured
> centres.
> As the New UK £1 coin & the Canadian Toonie!
>
> I've heard the new British Pound £ coin 'hits well
> ' @ TID 16
> Not sure where / if the 'Toonies' hit?'
>
> I didn't cover actual manual coil sweeping speed i
> n the Review.
>
> It's effective either fast or slow but, it can't b
> e 'whipped'
> Your wrist will twist off if you try it for extend
> ed periods.
> Some folks like 'to coil whip' when covering a lar
> ge area with the less likelihood of detecting many
> targets?
> It's an effective strategy when 'ground sampling'
> a new site for example?
>
> Much experimenting was done using various coil swe
> ep speeds and a fast sweep can work with a slow Re
> covery rate and similarly a slow sweep can be effe
> ctive with a faster Recovery rate.
> As the 'Equinox 600', has just 3 Recovery Speeds,
> it wasn't possible to test beyond that level.
>
> Des D

Arrr TypoOs I do it all the time, not to worry aye.

I think they are a good machine but I have seen a few posts where folks are not happy with the cam locks and the flexing shaft but saying that the flexing can be countered if a person was to adjust the way they sweep, But on the other hand not everyone uses they detector like a Scythe.

I need to reread your report again,
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
July 13, 2018 05:22PM
Another UK hunter just told me:

"The new £1 coin is giving indifferent signals!
TID's 21/22 - depending how long they have been on the beach?
Sometimes, really banging then others a bit crackly!"
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
July 13, 2018 05:40PM
Des D Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Another UK hunter just told me:
>
> "The new £1 coin is giving indifferent signals!
>

> TID's 21/22 - depending how long they have been on
> the beach?
> Sometimes, really banging then others a bit
> crackly!"

Yes being made of Bi-Metal construction they can get rust deposits build up or start to form which can throw the VDI numbers all over the place, also I have checked a few UK coins and depending on the year the VDI's can change by a large margin yet with no visible difference, But because that guy was beach hunting I wonder if the Salt was dragging down the VDI numbers,

Elsewhere I have seen that happen with other machines ?
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
July 14, 2018 08:58AM
......64 days remain before a full calendar year passes since it's announcement: Q. What is Delivery of the Equinox 800 / 600 like as of today, 7/14/18

Has every one who Ordered received their detector/s? Anyone waiting as yet? (hearing stock in the UK is scarce...true or false?)
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
July 14, 2018 10:20AM
Des D Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ......64 days remain before a full calendar year p
> asses since it's announcement: Q. What is Delivery
> of the Equinox 800 / 600 like as of today, 7/14/18
>
> Has every one who Ordered received their detector/
> s? Anyone waiting as yet? (hearing stock in the UK
> is scarce...true or false?)

Well I checked out the main dealers and they are listed out of stock ?
Re: Minelab Equinox 600 Review (long)
July 14, 2018 06:01PM
Des ...... i think there were a lot of people who knew they werent going to get one for some time. They have waited for real world reviews to see if it suited their hunting. But ..... at the price/warranty i think that sucked a lot of people in who other wise wouldnt have bought the machine....... many even went back and ordered a 600 for the same reason to have a cheap spare. A lot of people banking on this machines ability vs price as a must have even if they never use the thing very often. We got so used to seeing machine prices headed for the ceiling....... that this looks like a steal so they are still flying off the shelves. We also know some are buying to RESALE at a profit....... and as long as ML allows a shortage these guys will take advantage of the resale profit. Fair or not...... thats what it is.
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