Minelab Equinox 600 vs 800

  • Time to read: 10 min.

Equinox 600 vs 800

The Minelab Equinox was the first hobby metal detector to use true simultaneous, multi frequency VLF technology. Certain frequencies react better on certain target characteristics.

The Equinox thus has the advantage of using more frequencies than a detector that uses a single one. The Equinox 600 has slightly less functionality and uses 3 frequencies whereas the 800 uses 5 frequencies.

I have owned many detectors in my 20 years of detecting. Many have been what is described as “top end” and some have been “mid range”.

If I was to name drop, these have been a Minelab ETrac, Whites DFX, XP Deus, Minelab XTerra 70 and a Whites M6 to name a few.

All were very good detectors in their day and still are to be fair but in my humble opinion, the Minelab Equinox is exceptional.

Minelab Equinox 600 vs 800
My Equinox 800!

I have owned my Equinox 800 or “Nox” as they are often termed for a few years now and it’s found me some fantastic stuff.

What still blows me away is its ability to find targets at depth and continue to give you stable target information at this depth.

I believe the Equinox does this because of the sheer amount of information it receives from a target using all of its frequencies.

Garrett also have their version of a multi frequency detector. I compare the Garrett Ace Apex vs Minelab Vanquish 540 here.

This is an order of magnitude more than any single frequency detector can get from a target.

I have written another article on how frequencies react with targets in “metal detector discrimination & metal conductivity” here.

In this article, we’ll cover the main differences between the Equinox 600 vs Equinox 800 so you can then make an informed decision if you are thinking of moving into multi frequency technology.

We will even touch on the Minelab Vanquish range which also use multiple frequencies as the Equinox. Minelab call this “Multi-IQ”.

If your budget around £300 or just under, take a look at my article on the best metal detector under £300 here.

Unbeatable Multi Frequency!

You can now get the ultimate power of multi frequency technology over single frequency detectors with the Minelab Vanquish range of detectors.

The entry level Vanquish 340 now gives you ultimate depth, stability and sensitivity on all target types in every soil, including wet beach sand.

Minelab Equinox 600 metal detector – The differences

Equinox Multi Frequencies

The Minelab Equinox 600 can sometimes suffer the misfortune of being overlooked by its bigger brother. It’s a shame that this happens because it’s still a very sophisticated machine.

There are some things that will have reduced adjustability as you would expect being a slightly lower model.

We’ll go through these now…..let’s tackle the elephant in the room first! The main difference between these machines is that the 800 uses 5 frequencies.

These are 5 KHz, 10 KHz, 15 KHz, 20 and 40 Khz. The 600 uses only 3 of these…..5 KHz, 10 KHz and 15 KHz. This doesn’t by any means make this an inferior machine. It just makes it different.

Minelab Equinox 600 vs 800

It still uses the same processing power of the Multi-IQ system and performs equally as well in the Park and Field modes.

In reality, these are the modes that will be used mostly.

Even with 3 frequencies, the 600 will out perform most, if not all single frequency machines.

The Equinox also uses search modes which Minelab brought in. On the 800, these consist of Park mode, Field mode, Beach mode and Gold mode. On the 600, the only thing that is missing is the Gold mode.

In reality here, how often in the UK are you going to hunt for gold nuggets?….probably not often!

In fact, on my Minelab Equinox 800, I don’t think I’ve ever used Gold mode and I can’t think of a situation where I would use it.

The thing is, these detectors are made to be shipped globally so gold modes could be useful to people in the US or Australia.

You can read my further article about multi frequency technology here….Multi frequency technology – The Holy Grail?

The Minelab Equinox 800

The ultimate and original multi frequency machine that has opened up a whole new world in detecting technology.

Deep detection and constant stable target identification.

Equinox Headphones

Minelab Equinox 600 vs 800

So, both the Equinox 600 and 800 have the ability to plug in standard wired headphones and use wireless headphones also.

The Equinox 600 comes as standard with a set of Minelab wired headphones that use a 3.5mm jack plug.

The Equinox 800 comes with a set of wireless headphones and also a wireless audio module called a WM08.

Minelab Equinox 600 vs 800

The WM08 enables you to plug in some standard wired headphones to the module, pair it with the detector and then stick in a pocket. The technology is quite neat also.

The WM08 uses something called Wi-Stream which is a low power digital audio transmission type.

This minimises the transmission lag from the module to the detector so much you can’t even notice it.

Minelab Equinox 600 vs 800

The wireless headphones that come with the Equinox 800 are called the ML80’s. Again, the technology is quite cool as they use something called “aptX”.

This is a low latency technology which is faster than Bluetooth and delivers lightning fast audio.

The final headphone connection method is via standard Bluetooth which is available on both the 600 and 800. You can pair any set of Bluetooth headphones to machine.

Just remember however that Bluetooth will have the biggest latency (lag) of 100 ms. (aptX is 40 ms and Wi-Stream is 17 ms)

This could mean that if you sweep fast, it could be difficult to determine a targets location.

Equinox search modes

Minelab redefined the way people hunted by carrying out extensive testing and purposed four detecting modes. On the Equinox 600 and 800, they share the use of Park mode, Field mode and Beach mode.

The only difference which I eluded to earlier was the Gold mode of the Equinox 800. In most UK based conditions, the Gold mode will never be used so this completely levels both of these machines as Park, Field and Beach will be the only ones ever utilised.

These modes all have a subset of 1 and 2 under their headings. Option 1 is suited for general conditions whereas option 2 is suited for more difficult conditions and is a bit more aggressive.

All modes and sub sets can be modified at your discretion.

Park mode

Park mode as its name suggests is for hunting in trashy recreational areas and common areas. Unlike the US, in the UK, you must still gain permission to hunt in a park.

You can read more about this in my article….is metal detecting legal?

Park 1 has been optimised for finding modern coinage and larger jewellery while rejecting most trash targets. It’s a very good search mode to start with and have fun.

Park 2 has been optimised for finding smaller targets in more dense trash with a slightly lower discrimination level.

Field mode

Field mode is probably going to be one of the most frequently used modes in the UK. It’s been designed to hunt in historical fields for the widest variation of targets….which is a lot in the UK.

Field mode is well suited to reject coke yet find small hammered coins.

Field 1 suits for coins and artefacts in general hunting whilst Field 2 is slightly more aggressive and tuned to find smaller coins, particularly on edge when presenting a very small cross sectional area.

Beach mode

Beach mode as it suggests is optimised for all salty conditions on dry and wet sand along with detecting right into the surf and underwater. Beach 1 is typically used for dry and wet areas of the beach.

Beach 2 has a more aggressive tuning and is used for detecting up the sea’s surf and under water too.

Gold mode

Finally, Gold mode has been specifically designed for hunting gold nuggets in mineralised ground. It is due to the fact that the Equinox 600 is without the two higher frequencies of 20 and 40 KHz that the Gold mode has been left out.

(Higher frequencies react better to gold and tiny targets) With this mode not being used that often, it also levels the playing field between the 600 and 800.

Ultimate Tactical Packs!

Carry everything you’ll need for a detecting day like a First Aid kit, detector spares, finds boxes, batteries, snacks and drinks to rehydrate.

Never forget anything again with a belt pack!

Differences in adjustability

User profile

The Equinox 800 incorporates an additional feature called a User Profile. This allows the user to instantly save a copy of the detectors current search mode, pattern and settings for instant access at any time. The Equinox 600 does not have this function.

Noise cancel

Both the Equinox 600 and 800 have the excellent noise cancel feature to reduce or eliminate any external interference. The only difference here is that the 800 has the additional function to carry out a manual noise cancel.

In all honesty, I can’t see a practical reason to need this and letting the Auto function on both machines carry it out is much easier.

Tone volume

The Equinox allows for an advanced setting for you to set the volume on a specific tone. You can set the number of tones on both machines from 1, 2, 5 and 50.

The tone volume for these regions can be adjusted everywhere on the 800 but only for tone 1 on the 600.

I personally hunt in two tones and have set my tone one for iron and tone two for everything above this. I have also turned down the volume on tone 1 and turned it up on tone 2.

Therefore, the 600 only having adjustability on the first tone in my mind is perfectly adequate.

Threshold pitch

The threshold is basically the background hum you can hear as you detect. When you pass over a target that you have set for rejection, the hum will drop out and then come back.

This will let you know that you have passed over a rejected target.

The Equinox 800 has the ability to change the pitch of this hum to suit your hearing. This option is not available on the 600. (I personally can’t remember ever changing this on my 800 anyway!)

Tone pitch

This function allows you to change the pitch of a target tone you may have set. For instance, high conductive coins at the top end of the scale, you may want to change to a high pitch.

Lower conductive targets you’ll probably want as a lower pitch.

The Equinox 600 only allows the pitch to be adjusted on the first tone. (To be honest, I’ve never adjusted this on my 800 either!)

The Evolution Pro Cut

The ultimate accessary for the serious metal detectorist. Super strong, stainless steel specially designed spade.

Tone break

The tone break is a very useful function and increases the flexibility of the Equinox. I have utilised this in my current hunting programme.

It allows you to alter where you want a particular target tone to start and stop on the conductive scale. The main difference here is that once again, the 600 only allows you to alter the target tone break on tone 1.

I’ll let you into another secret here….tone 1 break is the only tone I’ve adjusted on my 800 as I hunt in two tones so everything after has a high tone anyway!

This adjustability I think was designed for the US market as they have a limited coinage range and for some reason they want to know what they’ve detected before digging it up!

Recovery speed

The recovery speed of a detector dictates how quickly a detector responds from detecting a first target to a second one.

A slow recovery speed will mean the first target will still be processed whilst you are over the second target causing it to be undetectable.

A faster recovery speed will give you target tones for both targets when close together.

The main difference here is that the Equinox 600 has 3 recovery speeds and the 800 has 8. Now, you have to look at these recovery speed settings as equivalents. The 800 goes from 1 to 9 whereas the 600 has setting 1, 2 and 3.

Setting 1 on the 600 is equivalent to 2 on the 800, setting 2 is equivalent to 4 on the 800 and setting 3 is equivalent to 6 on the 800.

Now, most seasoned Equinox 800 users will generally float between a recovery speed of 3 or 4 on the 800. If you have or go for a 600, a setting of 2 (equivalent of 4 on the 800) is absolutely perfect.

This again totally levels both machines.

Iron Bias

Finally, like the recovery speed settings, these are equivalents between the Equinox 600 and 800. The full settings for Iron Bias on the 800 go from 0 to 9.

On the 600, zero are the same, 1 is the same as 2 on the 800, 2 on the 600 is the same as 4 on the 800 and 3 on the 600 is the same as 6 on the 800.

The Iron Bias setting helps reduce the false signals that are produced on ferrous targets as they can produce ferrous and non-ferrous characteristics.

Turning up the Iron Bias reduces the non-ferrous signals and turning it down produces a more natural tone with both non-ferrous and ferrous tones coming through.

Again, most seasoned Equinox 800 users will float between a setting of either 3 or 4 on the 800 so a setting of 2 on the 600 is perfect and can be left at that.

Final thoughts

So, what do you go for if you’re in the market for a Minelab Equinox?…..a 600 or 800? Well, if you’re looking for a bargain that is powerful and is snapping at the heals of the 800, go for the 600.

If money is no object, go for the 800. In reality, they are the same detector and I would be surprised if they didn’t pick up exactly the same targets.

Why not check out some of my detecting videos in the Video section where I use my Equinox 800 to demonstrate target information from the Multi-IQ and also target separation.

If your budget is a little lower, why not read my article comparing the Nokta Makro Legend with the Equinox 800. The limited functionality I’ve outlined in all honesty will never need to be adjusted anyway.

If you can cope with not having a Gold mode and two of the higher frequencies that accompany that mode, you have one of the most powerful triple frequency machines out there.

It will always out perform much more expensive single frequency machines that are still available.

One of the key features of the Equinox for me personally is the ability to toggle through the single frequencies to get to the multi frequency option.

This helps massively to determine iron and trash when a good sounding target is picked in multi frequency and then checked in 5 KHz and 10KHz single frequencies.

This has sadly disappeared on Minelab’s new Manticore and is more fussy to toggle through the frequencies. This feature alone has kept me from selling my Equinox 800!

One thing to throw into the mix!….Minelab brought out the Equinox a fair while ago now and since then have launched their Vanquish series of detectors consisting of the 340, 440 and 540.

All of these machines use Minelab’s Multi-IQ technology and use 5 frequencies. With the 340 being available now for well under £250, this has literally thrown a hand grenade into the detecting market.

As you go up the Vanquish range, the 540 has the most adjustability of the range and can be found for around £400. The Equinox 600 can now be had for just under £700. So what do you go for?

Is the Equinox 600 about £300 better?…..I’m not so sure. The Vanquish range are going to be hard to beat and I would bet that the 540 would find everything my Equinox 800 could.

I’d grab a bargain and go for a very cost competitive Vanquish with 5 frequencies.

Unbeatable Multi Frequency!

You can now get the ultimate power of multi frequency technology over single frequency detectors with the Minelab Vanquish range of detectors.

The entry level Vanquish 340 now gives you ultimate depth, stability and sensitivity on all target types in every soil, including wet beach sand.