Minelab Equinox 800 Reviews, Comprehensive Reference, Tips and FAQ

The Minelab Equinox 800 is one of the best multi-terrain metal detectors on the market today.

Designed as a serious detector for coin and treasure hunters, it’s multi-frequency operation helps it outperform less expensive single frequency detectors.

This is certainly not a cheap unit, but the price is within range of anyone looking for a high-performance unit at a reasonable price.

The Equinox 800 (sometimes referred to as the NOX 800), has a huge number of features that we cover in our detailed review below.

Specifications

Feature Details
Detect Modes Park, Beach, Field, Gold
Custom Search Profiles 8 (2 per Detect Mode)
User Profile Button Yes
Operating Frequencies (kHz) Multi, 5kHz, 10kHz, 15kHz, 20kHz, 40kHz
Noise Cancel Auto, Manual (-9 to 9)
Ground Balance Auto, Manual
Sensitivity 1-25
Target Volume 0-25
Threshold Level 0-25
Threshold Pitch 0-25
Target Identification 50 segment notch discrimination, Ferrous: -9 – 0, Non-ferrous: 1 – 40
Target Tones 1, 2, 5, 50
Tone Break Ferrous, Non-ferrous
Tone Pitch Ferrous, Non-ferrous
Tone Volume Ferrous, Non-ferrous
Depth Indicator 5 levels
Length 1440 mm (56.7″)
Weight 1.34 kg (2.96 lbs)
Standard Coil 11-inch Double-D Smart coil with skidplate (waterproof to 3m/10′)
Audio Output In-built loudspeaker, 3.5mm (1/8″) headphones (included), Bluetooth compatible, WM 08 Wi-Stream compatible
Headphones (included) Bluetooth and aptX™ Low Latency headphones (non waterproof)
WM 08 (included) Yes
Display Monochrome LCD with backlight
LCD Backlight Low, Medium, High, Off
Battery In-built rechargeable Lithium-ion battery
Battery Runtime Approx. 12 hours
Waterproof Waterproof to 3m/10-feet
Key Technologies Multi-IQ, 5Fx8, Wi-Stream, Bluetooth, aptX™ Low Latency
Other Accessories USB Charging cable (1.5A), Multi Language Screen protectors
Software Upgradeable Yes, via USB connection (Windows and OSX)
Warranty 3 years control box and coil

Our Verdict (If you’re in a hurry)

The Equinox 800 is one of the best high-end metal detectors you can buy for less than $1,000. The Multi-IQ scanning ability makes it easy to locate targets and the custom discrimination settings allow you to block out targets you are not interested in.

With automatic ground balance and being fully waterproof to 10-feet, working over mineralized ground or in streams and surf is not a problem.

If money is tight, the Equinox 600 has almost identical functionality without the wireless headphones and the dedicated Gold mode. (You can still detect gold in Park and Field modes)

If you are an experienced detectorist, or you take time to learn the settings and tones, the Equinox 600 and 800 detectors will serve you well for years to come. This is an excellent long term investment that will find you plenty of hidden targets that were missed by other less expensive makes and models.

Pros

  • Dedicated Gold Search Mode
  • Less than $1k
  • Fully waterproof to 10 ft (except headphones)
  • Multi-IQ technology
  • Wireless Audio

Cons

  • Return to base for battery replacement
  • Hard to use for beginners

VIEW ON AMAZON

All about the Equinox 600 and 800 Metal Detectors

Minelab Equinox 600 and 800 Promotional Video

The following promotional video from Minelab covers many of the features. of the Equinox 600 and 800.

What is in the Box?

Both the Equinox 600 and 800 come in a solid box that is well packaged. While the contents of the box may vary slightly from the images shown below (especially when it comes to the multi-language manuals), the main components remain the same.

The shaft is split into three parts that easily slide together. The length is adjustable by way of the sleeve connections at the end of each rod and the LCD display is connected to the upper shaft.

The armrest is split into two parts and is bolted through the shaft to complete the construction of the main assembly. The velroe strap goes across the top of the armrest to slide over the top of your arm.

When it comes to coil selection, the box comes with the EQX 11 Double D smart coil. The coil gets connected into the back of the LCD screen, and the cable wraps around the shaft and is held to the shaft by the supplied velcro tabs.

The USB charging cable has a magnetic connection to allow charging without having to physically push a plug into a hole. Depending on where you buy the unit, the screen protector and getting started guides will be in the languages of your region.

Finally, the Equinox 600 comes with a set of wired headphones (not shown in the picture below).

The Equinox 800 comes with a wireless audio module, charging cable, instruction sheet, and wireless headphones. Wireless audio is one of the key differences between the Equinox 600 and Equinox 800.

Equinox 800 Detection Mode Settings Explained

To make it easier to get set up and running, Equinox comes with four detecting modes.

The detecting modes are preconfigured for different ground types. These include Parks, Fields, Beaches, and Gold. When you turn the unit off, it will return to the detecting mode you last selected when you turn it back on again.

Selecting the correct detection mode is important to get the best performance in the environment you are detecting in.

Description
Park Mode is for searching in urban parks, or other recently inhabited sites where there may be coins and jewelry. There are often also lots of common metal litter including aluminum foil, pull-tabs, bottle-caps etc. Park Mode is a good starting point for other general uses, such as freshwater detecting, or use for artifact hunting by accepting all ferrous Target IDs.
Field Mode is for searching open pasture, cropped or ploughed fields and historically occupied sites. These environments generally contain ferrous trash from previous human occupation. Field Mode is well suited for detecting hammered coins and ancient artifacts amongst the iron trash.
Beach Mode is for salt water beaches including dry sand, wet sand, surf, and underwater conditions. The salt causes the sand and water to be very conductive, causing salt noise to be detected. Beach Mode identifies the salt response and assigns a ferrous Target ID – indicating that it’s an unwanted target – so that desirable low conductive targets (such as gold chains) can readily be detected with minimal interference from the salt water.
Gold Mode is for gold nugget prospecting. Gold Mode uses a continuous sound that begins when the coil first approaches the target and then continues until the coil moves away. During the detection period, the signal volume and pitch vary proportionally to the strength of the target signal. Gold Mode is suited to finding smaller surface gold nuggets (and some larger deeper ones) that are present in mineralised ground.

Each detecting mode also has two search profiles. The search profiles can be further customized to suit your personal preferences. By default, search profile 1 is for general conditions, and search profile 2 is for more difficult conditions,

Mode Search profile 1 Search profile 2
Park General/Coins Fine Jewelry
Field Coins/Artifacts Fine Coins/Artifacts
Beach Wet/Dry Sand Underwater/Surf
Gold Normal ground Difficult ground

Frequencies and Multi-IQ Technology

Many low cost or budget detectors use a single frequency to detect metals.

Depending on the metals you are hunting, certain frequencies give better results than others. For example, when hunting for fine gold at a shallow depth, the 20kHz and 40kHz frequencies give the best results. But if you are hunting for highly conductive targets deep in the ground, the 5kHz frequency works best.

When you combine frequencies, you can detect metals across the entire spectrum.

The Equinox detectors have a technology called Multi-IQ. When Multi-IQ mode is enabled, the detector scans multiple frequencies at the same time. This allows you to detect coins and fine gold in a single pass.

The Equinox 600 operates on the 3 frequencies of 5kHz, 10kHz, and 15kHz.
The Equinox 800 adds two extra frequencies of 20kHz and 40kHz. (These are specifically aimed at finding fine gold or small gold nuggets)

The LED display

The large LED is easy to read in most types of light and can be seen while wearing polarized glasses. (unlike the CTX)

The Equinox 800 has 4 backlight levels and the Equinox 600 has two.

The settings are shown on the bottom row of the display. The sensitivity is shown to the left and the depth indicator is shown to the right of the target ID.

Detection modes are shown as simple icons just below the target ID and discrimination segments.

Target ID and discrimination

Targets are shown on the LED display as a large number and on a discrimination scale that surrounds the target ID number.

Iron targets are shown with target values ranging from -9 to 0. Other targets are shown with values from 1 to 40. (eg Silver dimes show as 26 or 27, and Zinc pennies show as 21)

There are 50 possible target IDs (-9 to 0 and 1 to 40). There are also 50 segments on the discrimination scale. Each segment on the discrimination scale matches one of the target ID’s.

Individual segments can be turned off through the settings menu or by rejecting a signal when it is first detected. By turning off a segment, you can effectively block selected targets from being detected.

Useful hint : If you record the ID numbers for the targets you find, you can quickly create your own discrimination pattern. Charts can also be found online by googling Equinox 800 target id’s. Remember that similar coins from different countries show up as different ID numbers – as do historical coins made from solid silver or mixed alloys.

Waterproof

Both the Equinox 800 and 600 are waterproof to 10 feet. This includes the LED display, coil and shaft. You cant put the unit underwater if you are using an external battery pack or the wireless headphones.

By default, waterproof headphones are not included with the unit. Minelab sells optional headphones that plug into the back of the LED display and are shaped to form a seal on the headphone socket.

Don’t be tempted to use the wireless sender or headphones, as they will fail as soon as they get wet.

Minelab CTX 3030 Waterproof Headphones Garden Accessory
  • Compatible with the CTX 3030
  • Waterproof: Submersible to 3 meters
  • Ideal for shallow wading at the beach, or detecting in shallow streams

Sensitivity

Sensitivity adjusts how responsive the detector is to the targets by adjusting the signal gain.

You may need to experiment with sensitivity levels for different locations. When you first start out, use a low setting and increase the value progressively as you get used to the unit. Lower settings reduce false signals but may miss smaller targets. As you increase the sensitivity, you will start to pick up more iron objects.

The manual has a list of settings you can use for different environments.

Depth

The depth gauge shows the approximate depth of the detected target. The accuracy can be reduced in highly mineralized soil.

Each segment represents approximately 2 inches (or 50 mm)

Pinpointing

There is no doubt that a handheld pointer is the easiest way to find targets. However, went the target is deep, the pinpointer built into the Equinox metal detector at least tells you where to start digging.

After pressing the pinpointer button, the discrimination segments will disappear. As the center of the coil gets closer to the target the discriminator segments will start to appear from both sides of the LED display.

When all of the segments are full, you are directly over the target.

The headphone tone will also become higher pitched as you get closer to the target.

Soil Adjustment and Ground Balance

The ground balance can be set manually or automatically. It reduces the noise caused by ground mineralization, and allows good targets to be detected more clearly.

By bobbing the detector up and down on the ground, the tone can be adjusted until it is almost silent.

Another alternative is to set the detector to "auto track" mode. In this mode, the ground balance automatically changes as you are using the unit.

An example of all three methods is shown in the video below.

A noise-canceling feature also allows you to adjust the signal for electrical interference or interference from other metal detectors in the area. Each channel has 19 settings and can be adjusted manually on the Equinox 800, and automatically on the 600 and 800 models.

Gold Nuggets

The Minelab Equinox 800 comes with 2 settings that are aimed at detecting Gold.

When using these modes, the audio and pitch are boosted when a target is detected. This is especially evident on small gold nuggets.

Gold mode uses multi-frequency by default. Other options allow you to use the single frequencies of 20kHz and 40kHz. While multi-frequency works best, switching to 40kHz (first) and 20kHz (second) on hot rocks or highly mineralized ground will make the detector less reactive and make detection easier.

Playing with the sensitivity settings is another option, The default setting of 20 may be too high on mineralized ground. Often a setting between 10 and 20 will work best.

One thing to keep in mind is that small nuggets near the surface, and larger nuggets deep underground will show the same target ID on the LED display. Gold can also appear anywhere on the discrimination scale.

Small nuggets under 1/10th gram tend to come up with a target ID of 1 or 2. As the targets get larger, they can indicate as anything between 1 up to 30. The deepest targets may not show up on the target ID but can still give a slight difference in tone.

Some users have reported that blocking out -9, -8 and -7 will block many of the signals from hot rocks or mineralized ground. There is also no reason why you can’t use Park 2 or Field 2 and still get good results. (Park 2 is best, as it doesn’t block out target ids of 1 and 2 which can be small gold nuggets)

Headphone and Audio Options

Equinox has both wired and wireless headphone options. While the Minelab Equinox 600 only comes with wired headphones, you can purchase the wireless box and headphones that come standard with the 800 model.

If you decide not to use headphones, the LED display has a speaker built into the back of it. The earphone socket is waterproof – but the default headphones are not. You can buy waterproof headphones from Minelab or Amazon.

The wireless headphones have very low latency. This means the tones get to the headphones very quickly, and the coil will still be over the target when you hear the tone.

A problem with some wireless technologies is that there is often a slight delay before the signal gets to the headphones and you hear the detection tone. By the time you hear the tone, the detector has often moved past the target. This slight delay can cause considerable frustration. The Equinox models do not have this issue.

Wireless audio cannot be used underwater. With that said, as long as you are only submerging the coil, you will normally be OK.

There are three types of wireless connection:

Type Comments
Wi-Stream This has the lowest latency (17ms) and is the best option. To use this option you need the WM08 wireless module (supplied with the Equinox 800)
aptX™ This is faster than Bluetooth (40ms latency). The Minelab ML80 headphones use this technology.
Bluetooth Any standard Bluetooth headphones can be used. They have a latency of 100ms. This can make it difficult to find targets when you have a fast sweep

Battery Life and Battery Replacement

Charging the built-in Lithium-ion battery is done by using a magnetic charging cable that connects just behind the LCD display.

Once charged, the battery will last around 12 hours. It takes about 4 hours to reach a full charge. The charge status LED will flash while it is charging, and turn to a solid light when the charge is complete.

The detector has a power regulator that ensures the battery voltage remains the same throughout its use. This means that the performance will not reduce as the battery starts to run low. The LED display has a battery level display and when the battery is critically low, it will display the symbol bF and will turn off automatically.

The life can be extended by connecting a portable battery pack (the same type that is used to charge cellphones). The external battery pack can be connected using the battery charging cable. However, it is important that you don’t use the unit underwater when you are charging or connected to a portable battery pack.

Because the battery uses Lithium-ion technology, it will need to be fully charged every 3 to 4 months. if you don’t do this, the battery life will degrade and will have to be replaced by an authorized service center. Even with correct care, the battery will need to replaced every few years. The battery needs to be replaced by a service center to maintain the waterproof seal.

Standard and Optional Search Coils

The waterproof 11-inch round Double-D Smart coil has good all-round performance for general detecting. It is included with both the Equinox 600 and 800, and provides a good balance between weight, ground coverage, and sensitivity.

By itself the coil weighs 510g. Once you add the skid plate (included), the total weight of the detector and coil together is 1.34kg.

As well as the standard coil, Equinox has two other options to consider. The smaller EQX 06 is good over trashy ground, and the larger EQX 15 is good for large open spaces or for hunting for deep targets.

The smart coils have chips that communicate with the control box to properly match the coil size with the operating parameters of the detector. This means you cant use non-Equinox coils with the detector.


EQX 06 Double-D Smart Coil

The waterproof 6-inch round Double-D coil is very sensitive to small targets and perfect for finding treasure in high trash areas. It is also ideal for detecting in difficult terrain.

The EQX 06 coil weighs 300g with the included protective skidplate, bringing the total weight of the EQUINOX detector to 1.13kg with the EQX 06 attached.


EQX 15 Double-D Smart Coil

The waterproof 15 x 12-inch elliptical Double-D coil provides maximum depth for specialised treasure hunting. It is also great for wide ground coverage in open spaces.

The EQX 15 coil weighs 660g with the included protective skidplate, bringing the total weight of the EQUINOX detector to 1.49kg with the EQX 15 attached.


How To Use the Equinox 800

Tennessee Adventures has produced an excellent tutorial video for the Equinox 600 or 800.

In the next 20 minutes, find out how most of the functions work and how to best use your Equinox 800 detector.

Minelab Equinox 600 vs 800

Other than the obvious differences when you open the box, the two models are very similar.

When you open the box, the Equinox 800 comes with Bluetooth headphones and the WM08 wireless module – where the Equinox 600 comes with wired headphones that plug into the back of the LED display. However, the Bluetooth headphones can be easily added to to the 600 model as an aftermarket purchase.

Once you deal with the audio differences, the Equinox 800 and 600 have identical performance to each other when it comes to the Multi-IQ functionality. Even though the 800 model has two extra frequencies (20kHz and 40kHz), the multi-frequency operation is the same in both detectors.

The 20kHz and 40kHz frequencies are more targeted toward small gold nuggets.

The biggest difference between the two models is that the Equinox 600 does not have Gold Mode as an option.

Gold mode is designed to enhance the performance of detecting small gold nuggets in mineralized ground. While both detectors can easily identify gold, the Equinox 800 will be of more interest to gold prospectors. Unless you are looking for gold nuggets more than once or twice a year, the Park2 and Field 2 settings of the Equinox 600 will give similar results.

Another difference between the Equinox 600 and Equinox 800 is that the Equinox 800 allows finer adjustments for noise-canceling around areas of high electrical interference through the use of a manual setting that is not available in the 600 model. The automatic setting in both models is often more than adequate for filtering out this type of noise.

In the end, the Equinox 600 will provide more features than most people will ever need to use. With that said, hardcore detectorists will appreciate the fine-tuning features of the 800 and the focus on nugget detection over mineralized ground. Your final decision will come down to price because both detectors are incredible at what they can do.

Minelab Equinox 800 Software Update

Recent software updates have made changes to the IDs for silver, the accuracy of the depth gauge and general interface and user profile changes.

Unfortunately, not everyone is happy with the changes, and some users have rolled back to the previous version. The good thing is that Minelab make it easy to rollback if you need to.

You can update your detector by using a Windows or Mac machine. To do this, you first need to download the Minelab Update Utility from the Minelab site. Once you have this, make sure the unit is plugged into the USB port, switched on and the coil is connected to start the update process.

The update utility has an option to rollback to the previous version if you have any problems.

Minelab Equinox 800 Manual

The Minelab 800 Instruction manual can be downloaded from the official Minelab link here

Products Mentioned In This Review

Image Description Price More Info
Minelab Equinox 600 Multi-IQ Metal Detector with Pro-Find 35 Pinpointer Equinox 600 (with Pinpointer) $778.00 View on Amazon
Minelab 3720-0002 Equinox 800 Metal Detector, Black Equinox 800 $899.00 View on Amazon

Equinox 600 and 800 Accessories and Spare Parts

Use the following direct links to view the item on Amazon

Pros

  • Dedicated Gold Search Mode
  • Less than $1k
  • Fully waterproof to 10 ft (except headphones)
  • Multi-IQ technology
  • Wireless Audio

Cons

  • Return to base for battery replacement
  • Hard to use for beginners

In Summary

The Equinox 800 is one of the best high-end metal detectors you can buy for less than $1,000. The Multi-IQ scanning ability makes it easy to locate targets and the custom discrimination settings allow you to block out targets you are not interested in.

With automatic ground balance and being fully waterproof to 10-feet, working over mineralized ground or in streams and surf is not a problem.

If money is tight, the Equinox 600 has almost identical functionality without the wireless headphones and the dedicated Gold mode. (You can still detect gold in Park and Field modes)

If you are an experienced detectorist, or you take time to learn the settings and tones, the Equinox 600 and 800 detectors will serve you well for years to come. This is an excellent long term investment that will find you plenty of hidden targets that were missed by other less expensive makes and models.

VIEW ON AMAZON

Image credits: amazon.com, Minelab instruction manual and website