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Minelab Equinox Iron Bias explained

Minelab Equinox Iron Bias explained

Minelab Equinox Iron Bias explained

The Equinox detector is the newest technology released by Minelab. It has some new features never offered before. So it’s only natural that there is a bit of confusion about what it does and how to adjust it. So, what is the Equinox iron bias? To reduce it to a simple answer; if you are trying to unmask coins that are hidden by the presence of nearby iron, then a lower iron bias is what you want. That’s the short answer, here’s the long one…

A detailed answer

Let’s define, for the purposes of discussion, any situation in the ground where you are getting a mix of low tones and high tones as a mixed target. Obviously, one type of “mixed target” arises from a coin lying near a nail. However, some mixed target responses occur simply because you have a nail (low tone) that is giving you some high tone falsing. In other words, not two separate targets in the ground. Instead, one target (the nail) that confuses the machine a bit. Presenting some high-conductive traits within the received signal being seen by the coil, along with the more dominant, low-conductive iron response.  Obviously the degree of this falsing depends upon sensitivity of the machine, the frequency being utilized, and other factors.

In a perfect world, we’d like to have a super-sensitive machine, yet one that does not give false signals on nails. Instead, it correctly IDs them entirely as iron and only gives us the high-tone/low-tone mix when there are actually two co-located targets. But, we don’t have that ability yet. So, this is where “iron bias” enters the picture, being a tool that can help a bit.

Avoiding iron falses

Skewing the mixed target towards iron

If all we want to do is eliminate falses, we can run iron bias up high. What that is  telling the machine is “on mixed targets, instead of letting me hear iron tones AND occasional high tones, eliminate the high tones.” i.e. ‘bias’ the response toward all iron tones/IDs. This can be good, in that you won’t be bogged down by the “jumpiness” of the machine.  You can focus only on the clear, solid, repeatable high-toning targets while ignoring most of the nails (as those nails will now ID more solidly as low-tone iron). However, the obvious downside to this is that you will miss some partially masked coins because you have told the machine (with your iron bias setting) to de-emphasize any high-conductive response that is occurring near primarily iron targets.

Finding the hidden coins

skewing mixed target towards conductive

On the other hand, if we want maximum unmasking ability, we can run iron bias down low, and in that case what we are telling the machine is “anytime you are seeing some high-conductive response near an iron target, EMPHASIZE those high tones for me; allow them to bleed through.” In other words, “bias” the machine toward an emphasis on high tones, in any mixed target scenario.

The benefit of setting up the machine this way is, obviously, if your mixed target happens to be a coin next to a nail, you will be allowing the coin response part of the signal to be emphasized and thus making it more likely you HEAR that co-located coin. Therefore, low iron bias settings allow you a much better chance of digging partially masked coins. However, the obvious downside is, you will dig more nails, as again, high-tone nail falses are also a “mixed target,” and your low iron bias setting is telling the machine “emphasize” THOSE high tones, also, just the same as it would any high-tones associated with a partially masked coin.

Everything is a trade-off

So, the answer to the question of “where to set the bias” depends upon what you are trying to do, what your goal is at that time. Do you want to hunt “quiet,” and dig only the solid coin hits? Or are you hoping to maximize your unmasking capability in a heavily hunted, nail-infested site?
After all that long-winded response, the point is, running iron bias low gives you the best chance of digging any partially masked coins in your very trashy site, but it will come with the downside that you will likely dig more “falsey” nails.

false or mixed?


Thanks to Steve G. for the help explaining this concept.

You can read further articles covers use of the “Recovery Speed” setting and “Ground Balance” settings.

Comments (15)

  1. Avatar
    Apr 3, 2018

    A nice concise explanation. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

  2. Avatar
    Kev Bell
    Sep 10, 2018

    At last, a simple explanation of the Equinox Iron Bias that’s easy to understand. Thanks very much.

  3. Avatar
    Oct 30, 2018

    Excellent 😇 easy to understand
    Why are paragraphs like this not in manuals , as one of the Greats said” if you can’t convy what you have learned no matter how complicated in one or two paragraphs then you’ve not fully understood it “

  4. Avatar
    David Parker
    Dec 5, 2018

    Why is everything else not explained as simply and easy to understand as that , many thanks 👍

  5. Avatar
    Brian Terrell
    Dec 5, 2018

    Great explanation. I run my bias on a lower setting, and it is true I dig a few more nails than I normally would. It does tend to drive one crazy at first though!

  6. Avatar
    Dec 10, 2018

    Make a more new posts please 🙂

  7. Avatar
    Apr 25, 2019

    Great Article!
    Your ground balancing pist seems to be missing?
    Was it deleted on purpose?

    • Silver Fiend
      Silver Fiend
      Apr 25, 2019

      No, Actually I forgot to finish it! Thanks for the reminder. I wrote the article but got distracted before I did the graphics. I’ll get that finished up.

  8. Avatar
    Harry Surtees
    Jan 1, 2020

    That my friend, explains iron bias. Now I know what iron bias is. The other day for the first time, I was digging deep coins, and did not dig one rusty nail. I missed up and lost my settings, mainly because I don’t know what I am doing. Now I am going to run my iron bias high, and let the other people find the masked coins, and dig all those rusty nails. I hate rusty nails. Thank you again.

    • Silver Fiend
      Silver Fiend
      Jan 1, 2020

      I’m glad that it helped you!

  9. Avatar
    Mark Gillespie
    May 9, 2020

    Thanks for the excellent explanation. Never completely understood the manual in this regard. Could you explain the new iron feature add to the last update. Minelab needs you to write their instructions.

    • Silver Fiend
      Silver Fiend
      May 10, 2020

      The updated IB is the same as the original in it’s theory of operation, but its using a different algorithm for calculations. I have heard from close ML sources that the new IB is much better and its best to put in mode2 and leave it there.

  10. Avatar
    Vincent Ortega
    May 19, 2020

    This by far is the clearest explanation of iron bias, especially for those new to metal detecting. Thanks for the well worded and easy to understand eplanation!

  11. Avatar
    Gordon turke
    Oct 6, 2020

    I might be the first to say this, but I’m confused with iron bias, I was on the understanding that if you put iron bias on a high number say 6, it cuts it out when going over a target, no on my nox800, I have tried going down on the numbers down to 0, makes no difference I get the same sound on a iron target,hence, I dig so much iron, giving numbers around the 15 mark, horse shoe off always, so now, if I get a target,on 15, I don’t dig it up, unless I hear a high pitch sound,then I dig it up, I have done many tests on land, for this reason, this is why I’m confused.

  12. Avatar
    Paul Mahoney
    Oct 6, 2020

    Although I understood the iron bias this made it so much clearer. Had I saw this article sooner I would have figured it out sooner LOL.
    Great article to help understand the iron bias and I have certainly passed it along to other detectorists.thanks a lot!

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