Frequency for metal detecting

Best Frequency for Metal Detectors

When I was just starting out, it took me forever to understand the difference between a Very Low Frequency and a Pulse induction metal Detector. So, you can imagine my frustration when I learned that even within these classifications there are different operating frequencies that metal detectors use. However, I have since learned how this information can help me improve my searching ability, and I am writing this article to tell you what I wish I would have known when I was new to the hobby.

Which Frequency is Best for Metal Detecting?

The best frequency for metal detecting is somewhere in the range of 5 kHz to 15 kHz. This range is where most general-purpose metal detectors are tuned too, and also the easiest to manage for beginners. Nevertheless, you can always get more specialized detectors once you have mastered the basics.

Best Metal Detector Frequency
Best Metal Detector Frequency

Understanding Metal Detector Frequency: The Basics

In the world of metal detecting, ‘frequency’ refers to the number of electronic waves a metal detector sends into the ground per second, measured in kilohertz (kHz). Imagine it like the detector’s heartbeat, with each pulse representing a wave sent down to uncover hidden treasures. For instance, a frequency of 12 kHz means the detector transmits and receives 12,000 waves every second.

The Role of Frequency in Detecting Different Metals

Frequency is the key to what types of metal your detector will be most responsive to. Lower frequencies, which have longer wavelengths, are great at picking up high conductivity metals like silver and large relics. They penetrate deeper, making them ideal for finding larger objects buried deep down.

On the flip side, higher frequencies, with their shorter wavelengths, are adept at detecting small targets like gold nuggets or tiny jewelry pieces. They’re sensitive to low conductivity metals, perfect for unearthing those elusive small treasures.

Tailoring Frequency to Your Hunting Needs

Selecting the right frequency is like choosing the right tool for a job. If you’re hunting for relics or coins, a frequency range between 5 kHz to 15 kHz is generally your best bet. It’s a sweet spot for most general-purpose metal detectors. For gold prospecting, you’d want to dial up the frequency, aiming for the 17 to 70+ kHz range to catch those small nuggets. Remember, the right frequency can make all the difference in what you find and how deep you find it.

How Does Frequency Affect Metal Detectors?

The operating frequency of a metal detector refers to the number of electromagnetic waves (measured in Kilo-Hertz per second or kHz per second) that the metal detectors coil is able produce in a set amount of time, generally per second of operation. A metal detectors frequency can range anywhere from 1.5 kHz per second to a whopping 100 kHz per second.

However, to be fair most metal detectors operate in-between the frequencies of 5 kHz per second and 25 kHz per second. This means that a standard metal detector is capable of sending between 5,000 and 25,000 electromagnetic waves into the ground every second.

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Nokta Ultra
Nokta Simplex ULTRA 👈 Awesome Machine!

When asked what I recommend, the 👉 Nokta Simplex Ultra stands out. Perfect for beginners, it’s waterproof, includes wireless headphones, and offers five functional modes, growing with your detecting skills.

Lesche T Handle Shovel picture
Lesche T Handle Shovel digs through everything

The next thing you need is a great shovel, believe me when I say you’ll dig more knowing you can dig FASTER. The nearly bullet proof Lesche T- Handle Shovel is the most comfortable heavy duty shovel I’ve ever used.

I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting
I love the CKG Sand Scoop for Beach Metal Detecting

Metal Detecting and Beaches are a perfect match. To search a beach you’ve GOT TO HAVE A SAND SCOOP. CKG Sand Scoops are heavy duty and able to be used as a shovel.

Minelab Equinox 800 amazing Metal Detector
Minelab Equinox 800 amazing metal detector

If it’s time up UP YOUR GAME , get the industry standard metal detector. The Minelab Equinox 800 IS THE BEST. Okay it’s not cheap, but your finds are going to increase with this machine.

So, how does the operating frequency actually affect the metal detector? Well, in general this depends on a few factors. These factors include, but are not limited to: conductivity of the metal, size of the target, depth of the target, and even the level of soil mineralization.

As a general rule, lower frequencies have longer wavelengths and penetrate the ground deeper than higher frequencies. That being said, higher frequencies have greater signal strength and will result in a more sensitive metal detector. Moreover, the more conductive a metal is the lower the frequency should be for your metal detector and vice-versa.

This all still may be confusing so here is an easy to read chart for various scenarios and metals…

Targeted TreasureBest FrequencyMetal Detector Brand
Silver/Copper/Brass3 kHz – 7 kHzGarrett Ace 150 operating at a frequency of 6.5 kHz
GOLD14 kHz +Garrett AT Gold with an operating frequency of 18 kHz
Iron/Ferrous Metals10 kHz +White’s Goldmaster GMT operating at a frequency of 48 kHz
Zinc/Cobalt/Stainless9-10 kHzFisher Labs F75
Nickle/Aluminum4 kHz – 8 kHzGarrett AT Pro
Small Objects7 kHz and LessMinelab X-calibur 2 operating at a frequency of 1.5 to 25.5 kHz
Large Objects7 kHz and Above Minelab Xterra 305 operating at a frequency of 7 kHz and 18.5 kHz

Frequency and Conductivity: Unlocking the Secrets of Metal Types

Tips for Finding Coins Metal Detecting
Tips for Finding Coins Metal Detecting

Different metals conduct electricity in their own unique ways, and this is where frequency shines. A metal detector’s frequency can be thought of as a fine-tuned tool, adjusting its approach based on the metal it’s trying to find. Lower frequencies are like broad strokes, ideal for detecting larger objects made of more conductive metals like iron and silver.

Higher frequencies, with their precise and delicate touch, are perfect for sniffing out smaller, less conductive items like gold nuggets or intricate jewelry. By understanding this relationship, you become more adept at tweaking your detector’s settings to zero in on the specific types of metal you’re after, making each hunt more productive and exciting.

Multi-Frequency Metal Detectors vs Single Frequency Detectors?

Most metal detectors are single frequency detectors. This means that they operate at one frequency and only that frequency. These are typically, either at or below 10 kHz per second or above 30 kHz per second. The former is good at ground penetration and finding highly conductive targets. The latter is better at finding smaller low-conductivity targets, but also struggles with ground penetration.

Metal Detecting Pro Tip: Read this full article about multi-frequency metal detectors. 👉 All About Multi-Frequency Machines

However, there is a small percentage of newer machines which can actually detects at two or more frequencies at the same time. These metal detectors are known as simultaneous multi-frequency detectors. Like I said this could be happening at the same time, or possibly at an imperceptibly fast interchanging pattern.

These detectors are just as reliable as single frequency detectors, but obviously more capable due to their improved range of detection. The only downside is that these machines can sometimes be difficult to use, and they definitely cost more than the average metal detector. However, if you are somewhat skilled and money is not a huge issue, this new technology is definitely better (as long as the manufacturing quality remains unchanged) and worth the investment.

Some of the newer simultaneous multi-frequency detectors can even detect a greater number of frequencies than ever before. Previously, the standard was either one frequency or three frequencies (aka Selectable Three Frequency). But, a new technology called Full Band Spectrum can detect up to 28 total frequencies all at once. This ensures you detect any number of targets regardless of size, composition, or depth.

Decoding Frequencies with Handy Charts

This is where frequency charts come into play, acting as your treasure map. These charts are like a comparative guide, laying out different metal detectors and their respective frequencies side by side.

Imagine a table where one column lists various metal detector models and the adjacent columns show their operating frequencies, whether they’re single, multi, or pulse induction types.

Such a visual comparison can be a game-changer, especially when you’re deciding which detector aligns best with your hunting goals. Whether you’re after relics, coins, or the elusive gold nuggets, these charts can help you pinpoint the perfect detector frequency to make your search more effective.

Metal Detector ModelFrequency TypeOperating Frequency (kHz)
Nokta Simplex UltraSingle15 kHz
Nokta LegendMulti-Frequency5 – 20
Garrett ATX ExtremePulse InductionN/A

Best Frequency for Finding Coins?

Coins are generally closer to the surface and of a higher conductivity, this means that the best frequency’s for searching for coins are anywhere from 10 kHz and below. That isn’t to say that some rare gold or silver coins won’t benefit from higher frequency detectors due to their specific composition.

Metal Detecting Tips: Are you a “Coin Shooter” if you are you’ve got to read this article 👉 5 Best Places to Find Coins

Best Frequency for Finding Jewelry?

Although jewelry is often marketed as gold or silver, or even platinum, the reality is that these are often alloyed with other metals that have higher conductivity so a midrange frequency detector is acceptable for looking for jewelry. Somewhere from 10 kHz and Above should do just fine.

Metal Detecting Tip: Searching for rings and necklaces? Let me help with this article 👉 Gear for Finding Jewelry

Best Frequency for Gold Prospecting?

Gold is mostly only found is small pieces, and of course in remote areas such as western Australia. However, if it is gold you are after then you will need a machine that is 14 kHz and above. The higher the better as gold has a very low conductivity so it will be difficult to detect otherwise. If your serious about searching for gold and jewelry I highly recommend the Minelab Gold Monster 1000 👈 Link to Amazon for current prices and reviews.

How does Ground Mineralization Affect Frequency?

Due to the effect that ground mineralization can have on the normal processes of a metal detector it makes sense that it would also affect the frequency you should be using for detection. First thing first however, no matter the frequency you should be using a Pulse Induction metal detector if possible as it won’t be affected by the mineralization.

That said, a lower frequency is most likely the best option for a highly mineralized area. The higher the frequency is the more it will be affected by the ground’s composition and even temperature fluctuations.

Metal Detecting Tip: Mineralization causes something called “Hot Rocks” Read what it is and how to setup your machine in this article – What are Hot Rocks in Metal Detecting

Following this logic, when you are treasure hunting at the beach, especially a saltwater beach, it is best to use lower frequency Pulse Induction metal detectors. The moisture in the sand, along with the salt and any other number of minerals, can cause false signals that effect high frequency machines and Very Low Frequency machines the most.

How does Search Coil Size Affect Frequency?

The larger a search coil is, generally, the lower the frequency which it produces will be. Furthermore, the smaller a search coil is, generally, the higher the frequency it produces will be.

Metal Detector Search Coil Size and Frequency
Metal Detector Search Coil Size and Frequency

This means that as a general rule large search coils are good at ground penetration but it will be lacking in sensitivity. Also, this means that as a general rule the smaller a search coils is the worse ground penetration it will have, but the better sensitivity is will have as well.

How a Metal Detector Creates an Electromagnetic Field?

A metal detector creates an electromagnetic field by sending electrical energy through a coiled piece of copper. The various specifications of this process affect the frequency which is produced but the general process is the same no matter what the operating frequency is. An electromagnetic field is produced by the interaction of an electrical field and a magnetic field. These two fields have to be at the same frequency, and also at an opposing direction. This can be seen in the graphic below…

Metal Detector Frequency
Metal Detector Frequency

The effect of these two fields coming together is an electromagnetic field which can affect metallic objects in the ground and therefore can be detected by the metal detector.

The Best Frequency for Metal Detectors: Revisited

At the beginning of this article I said that the best frequency for metal detectors is 5 kHz – 15 kHz. While this is true for general purpose metal detectors, hopefully I have given you the information to determine which frequency is the best for your specific use case. I say this because, now that I have explained metal detector frequencies, it is clear that 5 kHz – 15 kHz is not always the best range to have when metal detecting.

Nokta Makro Legend
Nokta Makro Legend

If you’re ready to find treasure the Nokta Makro LEGEND is the Metal Detector to Get

Have you ever felt 100% confident and recommending something to a friend? That’s how I feel about the Nokta Makro LEGEND If you’re a beach detectorist I have no doubt that this machine will find more treasure than any other machine in this price range. This detector has features found on machines costing hundreds more. 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

For example, if you are searching for gold you need a metal detector which is operating at a frequency that is at least 14 kHz but preferably as high as is possible. The reason for this is that gold is often only found is small pieces. Furthermore, gold is not very conductive. Both of these factors contribute to the reason why a high frequency metal detector is the best for searching for gold.

Moreover, if you are searching for silver then it is preferable to have a metal detector which is tuned to have the lowest frequency possible. A metal detector capable of transmitting frequencies around 3 kHz in fact. Of course, putting this use case squarely out of the range of my original recommendation. But, silver is highly conductive (the most conductive metal in fact) and so it is necessary to use a lower frequency detector to find targets of this kind.

Further judgement calls can also lead you to decide that my recommendation is not the best for your specific case. If you know that what you are looking for is very deep in the ground then the lowest frequency possible is the best frequency to use. Somewhere 5 kHz and below. Inversely, if you know what you are looking for is near the surface, it is possible that a higher frequency would be better. Somewhere 10 kHz and above.

What do You Need For Beach Metal Detecting?

I’m going to provide an ESSENTIAL beach gear list. Everyone wants to enjoy beach time and dragging a pile of gear to the beach sucks.

  • A great multi-frequency metal detector. Different metals react to different frequencies. Having a machine that utilizes multiple frequencies at the same time will greatly improve finding gold and coins. The Best Value is the Nokta Makro Legend check prices and reviews on Amazon with this shortcut link 👉 Nokta Makro Legend
  • A great pinpointer, I’m an absolute believer in wireless tech. For years I would get tangled in my headphone wires. GO WIRELESS the Nokta PulseDive links to the Legend’s wireless headphones. Since it’s built for diving, it’s Heavy Duty. Short cut link to Amazon – Nokta Makro PulseDive
  • Get a heavy duty sand scoop, I’ve bought the cheap plastic and metal scoops – NOT GOOD. They usually break within a day. 2+ years later I’m still hammering on my CKG Metal Detecting Sand Scoop 👈 Link to Amazon

Even further, if you know the area which you will be searching in is either highly mineralized or moist or both, a lower frequency Pulse Induction metal detector may be the best option for your search. But, then of course if this is not a possibility then a Very Low Frequency metal detector which has an operating frequency of somewhere around 6 kHz and below is the best option. The discrimination features which are possible with Very Low Frequency metal detectors can further assist you in removing the effects of ground mineralization as well.

So, the moral of this story, or rather the conclusion of this article, is that for an experienced metal detector there is no one best operating frequency to use all of the time. There is however a best operating frequency to use in any specific scenario. The challenge is knowing what works best and when. However, there is no need to fret, from the information in this article you have all of the knowledge you need to have a good understanding of metal detector frequencies and use cases for those frequencies.

Learning about metal detecting gear can be overwhelming, but these articles are here to help!

David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

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