Review of the EQUINOX 600 - My review focuses on beach hunting
Finally got my hands on the new Equinox. I chose the 600 vs the 800. I got it for $649 and couldn't be happier with that price!
So why the 600 vs the 800? Well unless you are prospecting for Gold, I don't see the need for the 800, at least for beach detecting. The 800 is more money and comes with headphones that aren't waterproof nor as good as bluetooth headphones you can buy at the store so the price just didn't make sense. For those of us detecting on the beach, the 600 is all you need but either will work. Personally, I just couldn't justify the price difference for a machine that will detects the beach exactly the same and has a gold mode that I will never use. After all, I am a beach hunter. I doubt I will ever take the Nox off beach mode. The 800 does include a few advanced settings, which can be useful for certain people, but again, as a beach hunter, I would never use them. The only settings that could affect me as a beach hunter are iron bias and recovery speed but as explained further, the 600 settings for those are more than enough. But before you buy either, go check out those settings and see if they matter to you. In my review, I will talk about the machine compared to the CTX3030, Excal, and CZ21
First impressions out of the box:
Build: Very easy to put together and lighter than the CTX, Excal, or CZ21. Does feel flimsy but is so much lighter.
*some users are reporting a wobble. I have felt a slight wobble, again its flimsy. I don't think what I am experiencing is an issue, rather, just how its designed. But I am happy with the build as its super light!
Headphone options: You can use any bluetooth headphones. I prefer wired but enjoy the option. For beach detecting, I use waterproof wired headphones. I made them myself as I am patiently awaiting for the GG waterproof ones. On the beach, I am actually just using the speaker. Its loud and more than enough for the sand. The headphone connector is waterproof so you can plug waterproof ear buds directly into the box and have waterproof phones.
Battery: I think this is a big downfall of the machine compared to others - You cannot easily remove the battery and doing so voids the warranty (at least that's what I am getting from my research). Minelab stated, before the machine was released, that users might able to replace it but in their manual they specifically state that you must return to a repair center to do so. This means that if your battery goes you are kind of stuck and will need to send in for repair. These batteries are known to wear down over time (think how your cell phone battery doesn't last as long as it did new)...so in 6-12 months from now will you be able to hunt all day with the equinox? I'm not sure. I have seen a few workarounds for this, such as carrying a charger and battery pack, but come on, that is a pain and just adds weight, which is the big advantage this machine has. The CTX, Excal, and CZ21 all had removable batteries with the CZ21/CTX having AA options for all day hunting. Now, there are already videos for replacing the battery and it seems really easy but if it breaks your warranty your can't really do this for 3 years. Here's to hoping these batteries last!
*still waiting for minelab to release a video showing how to change it...nothing as of 6/22/2018
Battery charging: Must be charged via USB. I like this but it should of come with a plug. This may annoy other people. I also don't like I need to have the whole unit attached to the charger. That is somewhat of a pain. But I believe its things like this that kept the cost down, so I will deal with it for the lower price!
Price: Obviously $650 for this detector is a nice price. I am very content with the price and feel detectors shouldn't really be much more than this.
Instruction Manual: Is only online so those who like print version will need to print themselves. It does come with a quick start guide. Personally, I am glad they aren't wasting the paper.
Other: Comes with screen protectors which is a nice bonus.
Overall out of the box: The price and weight are great. But everything else is lacking compared to the CTX. The CTX has a better battery system and feels very solid when built compared to the equinox. I feel like I am starting to see why the equinox is so inexpensive.
Setting up Machine/settings:
It took me about 30 minutes to read the manual and run through the settings on the machine. There honestly aren't that many. In some ways, thats good, and it does seem to have the main ones that I need on the beach. This machine seems pretty easy to set up and go. In some ways the CTX is like that as well once its set up, its just there are way more settings to choose from (a lot more). Once the CTX is set up, its turn on and go too.
Discrimination: I think this is where a machine like the CTX outshines the Equinox. On the CTX you can create patterns for searching. There is nothing at all like this on the Equinox. While you can discriminate numbers, I am not sure how accurate the single number system is compared to the double number system that the CTX has. I got this machine to really discrim Iron vs Non Iron. If you wanted to say take out pennies, I don't think you can do it with this machine. My test penny range up the same number as my test gold ring. So if you are in a field with pennies, the CTX would win out big time because you can't avoid them with this machine whereas with the CTX you can avoid them every time. Additionally, now that I have been using it live, the numbers jump. I have had pennies ring from 4-26.
Volume: Very loud option. I could probably detect on quiet days with no headphones. In fact, I detected without headphones. I wanted to try it and it worked just fine. I could do this with the CTX too. Can't do this with machines that use all metal though like the CZ/Excal.
*I've been using no headphones on calm surf days and honestly its loud enough you just don't always need them.
Brightness: No need to use brightness unless detecting at night from what I could tell. It was very bright in the daylight and sun without the backlight.
Ground balance: Not something I am going to use on this machine. Not needed at my beaches.
Tones: By default the beach setting has 5 tones. That's honestly perfect. I always thought the 3 on my CZ21 was perfect. No need for more for my tastes. Keep in mind this is personal preference. The CTX had 50 tones and I could see where that could be helpful.
*I am digging everything with this machine and really just iron vs non iron is all I need as far as tones go
Pinpoint: Works pretty similarly as the CTX. Press the button and pinpoint.
All metal: This isn't really an all metal mode. Its just that the machine doesn't disc out iron. It's not all metal like the Excal or CZ21.
*the 800 has a real all metal mode when using gold mode. You wouldn't use this on the beach.
Iron bias - This is one setting that affects your finds a lot. My default is 0 after multiple tests. When it was on the default or higher setting, I was having problems finding a gold ring next to iron. On 0, I could easily find it. The default setting on the CTX is 9 and cannot be changed. This is a setting that should allow the nox to find things the CTX could not.
Recovery speed - This setting does affect the depth of the machine. A higher setting lowers depth a lot. In my tests, the higher setting doesn't allow me to find anything that the higher setting does. My advice is to put this as low as you can without causing falsing. For me, that is a setting of 2 (4 on the 800). I cannot go lower or it just falses constantly.
Overall settings: Overall setting up the machine is pretty easy. There aren't a lot of settings. I think this is really geared towards the beginner detector. But it does have all of the necessary ones I have really ever needed. Its definitely no CTX which has every customizable option available.
*Now that I have a number of hunts the only setting I really ever change now is sensitivity. I will adjust the volume if needed too.
First what I am noticing is that the numbers are useful for identifying but not perfect. In fact, you have to dig everything but iron with this machine. It cannot discriminate like a CTX/Etrac.
So here are the results of the air test:
In Beach mode 1, with standard settings (20 sens, etc).
Silver 1oz: 9''
Gold Ring 10K: 14''
In Beach mode 2, with standard settings (20 sens, etc).
Silver 1oz: 10''
Gold Ring 10K: 14''
Then for fun I put the sensitivity on 25 (max) for beach 2:
Gold Ring 10K: 19''
I learned that this machine air tests just as well as the CZ21, Excal, and CTX (11' coil). However the CTX with 17' coil is much deeper.
*Note - I have read various explanations on the validity of air testing. Some use science to show that an air test is the max depth a detector can ever get and some use science to show just the reverse. This is especially tricky with multifrequency machines who are looking for mineralization/ground. The main point is that you can learn how your machine works, how it reacts, etc and no matter what you believe about air tests, in that regard, they are useful.
Air tests on recovery speed and iron bias:
On the air tests, recovery speed definitely affected depth a lot (multiple inches from low to high). So the lower recovery speed you can get away with, the better in a clean area...but read below to see how it worked in real world setting...When I put iron nails next to my wifes wedding band, I could detect it on all recovery settings. It didn't seem to really affect it. Maybe if there was more targets it would of made a difference but I don't really detect places where there are more than 1 to 2 targets at a time.
On the air tests for the iron bias, a low iron bias definitely helped detect a small wedding band, especially when there was iron (nails) around it. In fact, the higher bias would of passed right over, especially when the ring was vertical (with no nails around it). So a lower iron bias seemed much better on the ring both with and without iron around it. Unless I start pulling out tons of rusty nails, I am keeping iron bias on 0. Oh, and zero iron bias still disc'd out the nails by themselves.
The beach tests:
As soon as I dropped recovery speed to 1 on the 600 (*2 on the 800), my machine went nuts on both the wet and dry sand. My sensitivity was on 23 at the time. I couldn't make a swing without tons of falsing or a long drawn out false. So when I put the sens down to say 18, the falsing would stop. This tells me that I can keep the low recovery but lose a significant amount of sensitivity which also effects depth. Seems like a double edge sword as you have to make a choice. Going to do some air test today to see which affects depth more - sensitivity or recovery speed. After my tests this morning I continued my hunt using default beach 1 except iron bias 0. So far it seems they really did do a good job on the default settings! However, one thing that is interesting is that the iron bias and recovery speed for the beach settings is lower on the 600 in the default settings, no clue why they did that, but out of the box the 600 would be better than the 800 on my beaches using beach setting 1 until the recovery was manually changed to match what the default is on the 600.
On both my small womens wedding band and quarter, the depth loss from Recover Speed 1 (*2 on the 800) to 3 (*6 on the 800) was about 2-3 inches for both beach 1 and beach 2. Settings Iron bias 0 and Sens 20. I also tested this on sens 15 and sens 25 with similar results. This seems inline with the 4-5 inch difference I am seeing on videos of the 800 when they go from 1-8.
On the small womens ring, for both beach 1 and 2, on sens 20, rec speed 2 (*4 on 800), iron bias 0, there was a 4-5 inch drop in depth from sensitivity 25 down to 15.
So what did I learn? The depth loss from going from recovery speed 1->2 (*2->4 on 800) is about 1-2 inches. Some of my tests showed the same depth and some showed 2 inches. So if recovery speed 2 (*4 on 800) keeps me from falsing I am not loosing much depth, especially if I can keep my sens up to 23+ which I can on my beaches. Its better than going to a lower recovery speed and lowering my sensitivity. This will be a game of cat and mouse for each environment - How low can you get the recovery speed while keeping the sens up
My final test was to air test the recovery speeds and iron bias when the ring was held sideways (thin side to the detector coil) to see how it affected thin gold. I did find a 2-3 inch difference when the iron bias jumped from 0-3 (*0-6 on 800). It seems that the iron bias does affect the depth on small gold. I didn't find a difference when holding the ring regular (where the coil could see the whole ring). I also did not find a difference when the recovery speed changed from iron bias 0-3 (*0-6 on 800) so it seemed the different recovery speeds didn't really affect the iron bias in any way.
The machine definitely finds small pieces of metal. Much smaller than what I feel like I normally find with my other machines; almost felt like a PI in that regard. Digging up small pieces of can, like smaller than my pinky nail, was not fun and I kept having to consistently do it, especially on the dry beach.
So far I have found tons of aluminum, metal scraps, bottle caps, earrings, pennies, dimes, quarters, etc. I've already noted that one of my gold rings has similar numbers to a penny - well so does a corona bottle cap. Most of the pull tabs ranged in the 13-16 range and pennies were closer to 20 though one I found was a 16 and another a 22. Foil seems to be in the 1-10 range. I have yet to find any silver but from my air tests it should ring up much higher than any of that stuff. One thing I have noted is that the numbers definitely change as you move closer to the target. They can be pretty off at first and then as I move some sand they tell me a little more about the object probably is. I don't think this machine will disc well at depth, but I guess I didn't expect that either. Overall from my tests and use I can tell that this machine is a dig everything that beeps machine. This can be problematic on a trashy beach.
As far as depth, everything I dug was pretty close to the surface, maybe at most 8 inches down unless it was a piece of wire that was deep or a tent pole. Pretty much everything was one scoop. Not sure that really speaks to much as maybe there just wasn't anything down there. Considering its early in the beach season here this isn't surprising. I will revisit this as the summer starts moving along in late May/June when I start finding those deep rings!
I've hunted on Beach 1 and 2. Beach 1 seems to get more depth so I am sticking there. I started with sensitivity 20 but then was able to move it up to around 22/23 and on some beaches up to 25. I think my beaches are good at that level. I've detected at multiple beaches in multiple states now (NC, VA, NJ). As I go into the water I have been switching to beach 2 and dropping my sensitivity closer to 20.
The detector feels really light, almost like my old bounty hunter tracker IV, which was my first detector. I could hunt all day and then some with that thing because it was so light. I don't think I will ever have a problem with the weight of this machine, making it perfect for hot summer days.
Depth comparison to my other detectors:
|CTX 17''||Excal||CZ21||White's DF||Equinox||Equinox Sens 25|
|Nickel (air test)||13''||11''||10''||11''||12''||n/a|
|Quarter (air test)||16''||12''||11''||10''||12''||19''|
|10k Ring (air test)||16''||n/a||n/a||n/a||14''||n/a|
|1oz Silver (air test)||11''||n/a||n/a||n/a||10''||n/a|
|Quarter (ground test)||n/a||6''||6''||6''||n/a||n/a|
*Please note that I didn't do these on the same day. These have been done over time. Same location, same quarter, nickel, gold ring, etc were used. They are all part of my test stash. Each of these tests was done after I spent time with the machine learning how to get it deeper. The Nox settings were all beach 2 here.
*n/a means I didn't do that test
Overall: So wow, this machine is awesome for $650. I am really happy with it. There are some disadvantages compared to other machines like the ability to disc out targets but also some advantages, like the light weight. For me, I think its all I need. Its very hot where I live so the weight of this machine means more detecting time because less weight = less sweat. My beaches are also usually pretty clean and I mostly detect the wetsand so I don't really need to disc out pennies. If I were a dry sand hunter I would probably prefer the disc of the CTX. So if I could have one machine would this be it? I think the CTX still fits that bill. The CTX is light enough, has more settings/options, more coils (though they are coming for the nox), and a removeable battery. Then again is $2500 compared to a $650 nox. The nox is more like another tool in the tool box but it can be your only detector. If price is an issue, I would hands down just get the nox. Its going to find everything the CTX will and that's what is most important in my book. I don't think the options on the CTX are worth the extra price but then I don't think a BMW is worth the price either when my ford fusion gets me from point A to point B just the same...but that doesn't mean they won't be for you.