13 Metal Detector Settings to Know About


Metal detector settings are at the heart of the captivating realm of metal detecting, drawing in hobbyists and professionals alike. While the thrill of the hunt fuels many enthusiasts, successful metal detecting hinges on a thorough grasp of the various settings that modern metal detectors offer.

From beachcombers to relic hunters, the magic begins when one knows how to fine-tune and optimize these settings.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve deeply into several critical aspects, starting with understanding the sensitivity and depth potential and grasping the importance of ground balance, among many more.

Metal Detector Settings to Adjust

Here are 13 metal detector settings that you should know about.

  1. Diving into depth potential
  2. Discrimination and its role
  3. Perfecting pinpointing
  4. What is Target ID
  5. Ground balancing
  6. Frequency in metal detectors
  7. Battery settings
  8. Decoding detection modes
  9. sweeping success
  10. Volume adjustments
  11. Role of vibration
  12. Tuning into your targets
  13. Threshold settings

1. Diving into Depth Potential

  • What is Depth Potential?: Imagine you’re fishing. The deeper you cast your line, the more fish varieties you might catch. Similarly, in metal detecting, the depth potential refers to how deep the detector can “cast its line” to spot metal objects.
  • Factors Influencing Depth:
    • Type and Size of Metal: A large iron object can be detected deeper than a small gold ring.
    • Soil Type: Some soils conduct signals better than others. Wet and salty soils can interfere with detection.
    • Detector’s Coil Size: Bigger coils can often detect deeper, but they might miss out on smaller items. Smaller coils are more sensitive to tiny objects but might not reach as deep.
  • Maximizing Depth Potential: To make the most of your metal detector’s capabilities, always ensure it’s calibrated correctly. It’s also a good idea to learn about the ground you’re searching in.

    Understanding the depth potential of metal detectors lets you be more strategic in your hunts, ensuring you don’t overlook any hidden gems.

2. Discrimination and Its Role

  • Basics of Discrimination: At its simplest, discrimination in metal detecting is like having a discerning palate in food.

    Just as you might distinguish between flavors, discrimination lets you tell apart different metals underground.
  • Why is Discrimination Important?: Imagine you’re looking for a gold ring on a beach.

    Without discrimination, you’d be alerted to every soda tab, bottle cap, or any other metallic trash.

    But with it, you can tune out these undesired metals and focus only on what’s valuable.
  • Setting Up Discrimination:
    • High Discrimination: This will ignore more metals, especially junk metals. It’s perfect when searching in trash-laden areas.
    • Low Discrimination: More metals will be detected, including potentially junk metals. This is useful when you don’t want to miss anything.

3. Perfecting Pinpointing

  • What is Pinpointing?: Think of pinpointing as the magnifying glass of metal detecting. After a general area of detection with settings for pinpointers, you can zoom in on the exact spot. 
  • Benefits of Built-in Pinpointers:
    • Precision: You get a more exact location of the detected item.
    • Saving Time: Instead of digging a large hole unsure of the item’s exact location, pinpointers ensure you dig right at the target, making retrieval faster.
    • Conservation: By reducing unnecessary digging, you also protect the environment and terrain you’re searching in.
  • Maximizing the Use of Pinpointers: Once your main coil detects an item, switch to pinpoint mode. Move the coil side-to-side and then front-to-back. The loudest signal will indicate the target’s center. This practice ensures you’re right on the mark when you begin to dig.

4. What is Target ID?

  • Introduction to Target ID: Picture Target ID in metal detectors as the “first impression” your metal detector gives you about an underground object.

    Just like first impressions can be revealing, so too can this feature.
  • How Does it Work?:
    • Numeric Values: Based on the metal’s conductivity, the detector assigns a number. For example, iron might display a low number while silver might show a higher one.
    • Visual Indicators: Some detectors use icons or symbols, like a coin or jewelry image, to give you an idea of what might be under the soil.
  • Benefits of Understanding Target ID:
    • Time-saving: You can decide whether to dig or move on, based on the ID.
    • Less Junk: By recognizing undesirable metal IDs, you can skip unwanted finds.

5. Ground Balancing

  • Ground Balance Demystified: Grounds aren’t just dirt. They contain minerals, metals, and salts, which can throw off a metal detector’s readings. This is where the importance of ground balance steps in.
  • Why is Ground Balance Crucial?:
    • Accurate Detection: Ground balance ensures the detector doesn’t mistake minerals in the soil for valuable finds.
    • Enhanced Depth: With proper ground balance, detectors can find objects buried deeper in the ground.
  • Setting Up Ground Balance:
    • Automatic: The detector adjusts itself based on the soil conditions.
    • Manual: You adjust the settings based on your judgment and the detector’s feedback.
  • Tips for Effective Ground Balancing:
    • Regular Adjustments: Conditions can change even within a small area. Regularly check and adjust the ground balance for optimal performance.
    • Know Your Terrain: Different areas, like beaches or mountainous regions, have varied mineral compositions. Familiarize yourself with these to set the balance effectively.

6. Frequencies in Metal Detection

  • Basics of Frequency: Just as our heartbeats keep us alive, the frequency of metal detectors ensures they work efficiently.

    Think of it as the number of signals sent into the ground in search of hidden treasures.
  • Why Different Frequencies?:
    • Detecting Small Items: High frequencies can catch smaller objects, making them perfect for gold nuggets.
    • Going Deep: Lower frequencies penetrate deeper into the soil, excellent for larger relics or coins.
  • Adjusting for the Hunt:
    • Be Flexible: Changing terrains? Adjust your frequency for the best results.
    • Know Your Target: If you’re after gold, opt for a higher frequency setting. For general treasure, a mid-range frequency usually works best.

7. Battery Settings

  • Why Battery Settings Matter: A metal detector without power is like a car without gas. It simply won’t function. So the battery settings of the metal detector matter.
  • Maximizing Battery Life:
    • Brightness Levels: Dimming your detector’s screen when in bright sunlight can save battery.
    • Threshold and Sensitivity: Lowering these settings when not needed can conserve power.
  • Battery Tips:
    • Always Carry Extras: Ensure you have spare batteries or a power bank with you. You never know when you’ll need them.
    • Rechargeable vs. Disposable: Consider using rechargeable batteries. They’re eco-friendly and can be cost-effective in the long run.
  • Regular Checks: Check the battery indicator often. It’s always best to be aware of how much detecting time you have left, so you can plan your hunt accordingly.

8. Decoding Detection Modes

  • Understanding Modes: Modes in metal detecting are like different tools in a toolbox. Just as you select a specific tool for a particular job, you choose a mode based on what you’re hoping to find.
  • Common Modes:
    • Coin Mode: Perfect for parks or places where coins might be dropped. It’s calibrated to detect the metals commonly found in coins.
    • Relic Mode: Designed for those who are in search of older artifacts, maybe in historical sites.
    • Gold Mode: Optimal for areas where gold is commonly found, like near gold mines or streams.
  • Custom Modes: Some advanced detectors allow users to create their own modes. This is especially handy when you’re searching in an area with mixed targets or specific conditions.
  • Why Modes Matter: Picking the right mode can mean the difference between finding something valuable or walking past it.

    They simplify the process, making it easier for both beginners and professionals.

9. Sweeping Success

  • Why Proper Sweeping Matters: Think of the coil as the metal detector’s eye. Just as our eyes need to be open and clear to see, the coil needs to be correctly positioned for sweeping to detect.
  • Techniques for Success:
    • Consistent Height: Too high, and you might miss objects. Too low, and you could get false signals from the ground or other obstacles.
    • Steady Speed: Move the coil at a consistent speed. Too fast and you might miss targets; too slow and you could get overlapping signals.
    • Overlap Your Sweeps: This ensures you don’t miss any patches of ground.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: Just as with any skill, the more you practice sweeping, the better you’ll become. Over time, you’ll develop a rhythm that maximizes your chances of success.

10. Listening In: Volume Adjustments

  • Why Adjust Volume? Just as you’d adjust the volume on a television based on ambient noise, you need to adjust your detector’s volume to ensure you don’t miss any signals.
  • Benefits of Volume Control:
    • Adapt to Environment: Noisy beaches, windy hills, or bustling parks – no matter where you are, control the volume to best suit your surroundings.
    • Ear Safety: Using headphones? Ensure the volume isn’t set too high to protect your ears.
    • Battery Conservation: At times, reducing the volume can marginally extend the battery life, allowing for longer hunts.
  • Customizing Your Experience: Modern metal detectors sometimes come with advanced volume control, letting you adjust specific tones.

    This way, you can amplify signals from desired metals and lower the noise from undesirable junk.

11. The Role of Vibrations

  • Feeling the Find: While audio signals are common, vibrations in metal detectors offer an alternative way to be alerted to a potential discovery, especially helpful in noisy surroundings.
  • Advantages of Vibrations:
    • Silent Hunting: Want to be discreet? Vibration mode allows you to search without any audible alerts.
    • Useful in Noisy Areas: In places where hearing might be compromised, such as next to roaring waves or chattering crowds, vibrations ensure you don’t miss a find.
    • Ideal for Hearing-Impaired: For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, vibration feedback is invaluable.
  • Intensity Matters: Some metal detectors allow users to adjust the vibration intensity, ensuring that it’s neither too subtle to be missed nor too aggressive to handle.

12. Tuning into Your Targets

  • Understanding Target Tune: Think of Target Tune as the metal detector’s focus mode. Just as a camera focuses on a specific object, Target Tune zones in on a particular metal type or size.
  • Benefits of Using Target Tune:
    • Precision: Helps in precisely locating the target’s position, reducing guesswork.
  • Saves Time: Less unnecessary digging means more time searching for actual treasures.
  • Filter Out Unwanted Metals: By focusing on a specific metal, you can potentially ignore signals from undesirable objects.
  • Tips for Effective Tuning:
    • Stay Patient: Tuning requires a bit of patience. Sometimes, you might need to adjust it multiple times to get it right.
    • Practice Makes Perfect: Like all skills, the more you practice target tuning, the better you become at recognizing valuable finds.

13. Setting the Threshold

  • The Basics of Threshold: What is a threshold in metal detectors? Imagine it as the background noise or static that lets you know the detector is active and working.
  • Why is Threshold Important?
    • Hearing the Faintest Signals: A properly set threshold can help you hear the subtlest of sounds, which might indicate deep or small valuable objects.
    • Maintains Detector Sensitivity: It ensures that your detector is always at its optimal sensitivity, ready to pick up any metallic signals.
  • Mastering the Threshold Setting:
    • Avoid Too High Settings: A threshold set too high can drown out valuable signals.
    • Listen Carefully: Set it to where it’s just audible – a faint hum or buzz. This allows you to hear both the threshold and any other potential signals.
    • Adjust as Needed: Different terrains or locations might require slight adjustments to the threshold.

A Deep Dive into Sensitivity

  • Basics of Sensitivity: At its core, the sensitivity of a metal detector defines its ability to detect metal objects of varying sizes and depths. In simple terms, understanding the sensitivity of metal detectors is like tuning a radio to catch your favorite station without any static or interference.
  • Why Adjust Sensitivity?: Just as you wouldn’t wear the same clothes in both summer and winter, you shouldn’t use the same sensitivity settings for all environments in metal detecting.

    By tweaking this setting, you ensure your device performs at its best, picking up signals from desired targets and ignoring unwanted noise.
  • High vs. Low Sensitivity:
    • High Sensitivity: Ideal for detecting small items like gold nuggets or items that are deep underground. However, it can also pick up more interference, making it tricky in highly mineralized soils.
    • Low Sensitivity: This setting minimizes distractions from surroundings. It’s perfect for areas with lots of trash or electric interference.


Metal detecting is not just about the hunt; it’s also about mastering the art of using your equipment effectively. 

By gaining a deep understanding of the various settings, one can enhance their metal detecting experience, making it more efficient and rewarding. 

Remember, every location, condition, and target type might require slight adjustments in your detector’s settings. 

So, familiarize yourself with each of these mentioned aspects and be ready to adapt. Happy treasure hunting, and may your detector always lead you to exciting finds!

Howard rockse

Hey there, I am Howard a deeply committed individual who likes to share my knowledge and insights in this field, having spent over ten years as a metal detectorist.

My experience with GoldXtra has allowed me to provide trustworthy and informative advice to both new and experienced metal-detecting enthusiasts. I’m committed to assisting others in exploring and enjoying the world of metal detecting with the same enthusiasm and dedication that I have.

Howard Rockse
Senior Content Writer at GoldXtra

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