I have seen some confusion on the internet regarding the differences between the Minelab EQUINOX 600 and EQUINOX 800. I think that the EQUINOX 600 is being somewhat overlooked because it’s not the “top model” but, in my opinion, it is incredible value for a remarkably low price. I hope this blog will clear up any confusion and, in the process, show why I think the EQUINOX 600 deserves a second look by some people…
The most obvious difference is what comes in the box. The EQUINOX 800 comes with Bluetooth headphones and the WM 08 wireless module, instead of the wired headphones included with the EQUINOX 600; but these options can be added to the EQUINOX 600 if you so desire. In fact, most popular aftermarket Bluetooth headphones will work with both EQUINOX detectors.
Once you ‘get past’ the different audio accessories, the EQUINOX 600 can generally be considered as an EQUINOX 800 with a simplified feature set. The EQUINOX 600 has in no way been ‘watered down’ or de-sensitized. An EQUINOX 600 and EQUINOX 800, set up identically, will have identical performance to each other, under the same conditions.
Most of the confusion I have seen online revolves around Minelab’s new Multi-IQ simultaneous multi-frequency technology and the frequencies employed by the two detectors. The EQUINOX 600 is limited to 5 kHz, 10 kHz, and 15 kHz single frequencies, while the EQUINOX 800 also offers these plus the additional higher frequencies of 20 kHz and 40 kHz. This does not mean that the 600 is not employing the full multi-frequency range as part of the Multi-IQ processing. Multi-frequency operation is identical in the two models and provides the same maximum signal response to targets in Park, Field and Beach Detect Modes., The real magic of EQUINOX is in the Multi-IQ technology (not the single frequencies), therefore you can rest assured the EQUINOX 600 matches the EQUINOX 800 in this regard.
The EQUINOX 800 does have one key mode that is lacking on the EQUINOX 600; the Gold Mode. This mode is designed to enhance performance on small gold nuggets in mineralized ground. It does so primarily by using different audio processing so that targets respond both in volume and pitch. The Gold Mode will be of interest to gold prospectors, but has less application for other uses. More to the point, Multi-IQ is so good in both Park 2 and Field 2, that these profiles are as good, or better, at finding gold nuggets, than many dedicated single-frequency gold detectors! These modes are identical on the two EQUINOX models and, as a gold prospector; I would have no problem finding gold nuggets with the EQUINOX 600. People who regularly detect for gold nuggets will likely want the EQUINOX 800. If, however, looking for gold nuggets is more like a once a year thing, the EQUINOX 600 will serve as well, or better, than other multi-purpose detectors on the market.
The other big difference between the EQUINOX 600 and the EQUINOX 800 is the “Advanced Settings” available on the EQUINOX 800. These settings allow for a finer degree of tuning on various options that both models share.
Both EQUINOXs have automatic Noise Cancel but the 800 also offers a Manual override. If you hunt in areas of high electrical interference (EMI), or around lots of other detectors, this might be helpful in finding the quietest setting with the least interference. Automatic is great and most people will never use Manual.
The EQUINOX 600 has a generous range of volume and tone options, including Single Tone, Two Tone, Five Tone, and Fifty Tone options. The point where ferrous tones shift to non-ferrous tones may be adjusted; as can the volume of the ferrous tone. The EQUINOX 800 adds the ability to shift non-ferrous tones and volumes, which can be helpful for those who hunt strictly by ear. These options can also be an aid to those with extreme hearing loss in a particular audio range. However, all these tone and volume options do not change the basic power or depth of detection between the two models. I confess that, although all these options appeal to me, I really have not been using them because the Minelab preset options are so good it has not really been worth the bother.
The EQUINOX 600 features three levels of Detect Speed. The EQUINOX 800 has eight levels for finer tuning in the densest "carpet of nails" scenarios. Low settings offer more solid hits on very deep targets, but poor separation of closely adjacent targets. High settings have great separation, but the clipped audio responses required in dense trash make it harder to hear very deep targets. Use a setting as low as possible that achieves the desired target separation. The Iron Bias setting also has a similar resolution difference between the 600 and the 800.
Again, to reiterate, what the Advanced Settings do primarily is offer an extra degree of control over functions shared by both the EQUINOX 600 and EQUINOX 800. The EQUINOX 600 has the same features, but keeps it simpler.
The EQUINOX 800 has a User Profile button that allows the operator to jump straight to an alternative Detect Mode. This can take multiple button pushes on the EQUINOX 600. For example, to get from Park 1 to Beach 1 takes four pushes of the Detect Mode button to cycle there. An EQUINOX 800 user can program an extra User Profile for a jump there in one button push. This is strictly a convenience item. The EQUINOX 600 only allows you to turn the backlight on or off. The EQUINOX 800 has Low, Medium, High, or Off. This is only of interest to heavy users of meter backlights.
Also, perhaps consider that there is more than one way to compare performance and obtain more. E.g., for the difference in price, EQUINOX 600 purchasers have possibly saved enough to buy an accessory coil. It could be argued that, for many situations, an EQUINOX 600 with two coils would provide a distinct advantage over an EQUINOX 800 with only the EQX 11 coil.
The bottom line? The EQUINOX 600 is really all most normal people would likely need and even then it has more features than most detectors. The hard-core detectorists who want the extra features on the 800 generally know who they are. The key thing is that, with rare exceptions mostly involving gold prospecting, both models are equally capable and will both locate the vast majority of targets equally well. The EQUINOX 600 really is a powerhouse at an incredibly low price. The good news is that if you just can’t make up your mind, the EQUINOX 800 really is not all that much more!
You can also take part in the discussion on Detector Prospector forum.
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