When Minelab started developing our EQUINOX detector, we looked very closely at all of the current market offerings (including our own) to reassess what detectorists were really after in a new coin & treasure detector. A clear short list of desirable features quickly emerged – and no real surprises here – waterproof, lightweight, low-cost, wireless audio, and of course, improved performance from new technology. This came from not only our own observations, but also customers, field testers, dealers and the metal detecting forums that many detectorists contribute to.
While we could have taken the approach of putting the X-TERRA (VFLEX technology) in a waterproof housing and adding a selectable frequency range, this would have been following the path of many of our competitors in just rehashing an older single frequency technology that had already reached its performance limits. Another option would have been to create a lower cost waterproof FBS detector, but that also had its challenges with FBS being ‘power hungry’, needing heavier batteries, heavier coils, etc., and relatively high cost compared to the more recent advances that our R&D team have been making with the latest electronics hardware and signal processing techniques.
When Minelab develop a new detecting technology we aim to create a paradigm shift from existing products and provide a clear performance advantage for our customers.
Multi-IQ is Minelab’s next major innovation and can be considered as combining the performance advantages of both FBS and VFLEX in a new fusion of technologies. It isn’t just a rework of single frequency VLF, nor is it merely another name for an iteration of BBS/FBS. By developing a new technology, as well as a new detector ‘from scratch’, we will be providing both multi-frequency and selectable single frequencies in a lightweight platform, at a low cost, with a significantly faster recovery speed that is comparable to or better than competing products.
We have come out with a very bold statement that has captured a lot of market attention:
“EQUINOX obsoletes all single frequency VLF detectors”
Multi-IQ achieves a high level of target ID accuracy at depth much better than any single frequency detector can achieve, including switchable single frequency detectors that claim to be multi-frequency. When Minelab use the term “multi-frequency” we mean “simultaneous” – i.e. more than one frequency is transmitted, received AND processed concurrently. This enables maximum target sensitivity across all target types and sizes, while minimizing ground noise (especially in saltwater). There are presently only a handful of detectors from Minelab and other manufacturers that can be classed as true multi-frequency, all of which have their own advantages and disadvantages.
How does Multi-IQ compare to BBS/FBS?
Multi-IQ uses a different group of fundamental frequencies than BBS/FBS to generate a wide-band multi-frequency transmission signal that is more sensitive to high frequency targets and slightly less sensitive to low frequency targets. Multi-IQ uses the latest high-speed processors and advanced digital filtering techniques for a much faster recovery speed than BBS/FBS technologies. Multi-IQ copes with saltwater and beach conditions almost as well as BBS/FBS, however BBS/FBS still have an advantage for finding high conductive silver coins in all conditions.
Questions & Answers
What actually is Multi-IQ technology? What does the name stand for? What frequencies does it use? Is “Multi” the same or different for the various Detecting Modes? Is Multi-IQ the same or different for EQUINOX 600 and EQUINOX 800? Why use a single frequency? How does EQUINOX perform in certain environments? How does EQUINOX perform compared to other Minelab detectors? How does EQUINOX perform against other brand detectors?
These are some of the myriad of questions we have seen since we published our EQUINOX Product Notice in mid-September. Some of the answers will have to wait until Minelab publishes reports from our field testers and/or you get your own hands on a detector to try yourself. In the meantime, let’s look further into the aspects of Multi-IQ technology.
Multi-IQ is derived from:
Simultaneous Multi-Frequency In-phase and Quadrature Synchronous Demodulation.
We can go to a statement from Dr Philip Wahrlich, our principal technology physicist, about a key difference of Multi-IQ compared to the demodulation taking place in conventional single frequency VLF detectors:
“Within the Multi-IQ engine, the receiver is both phase-locked and amplitude-normalized to the transmitted magnetic field – rather than the electrical voltage driving the transmitted field. This field can be altered by the mineralization in the soil (in both phase and amplitude), so if the receiver was only phased-locked to the driving voltage, this would result in inaccurate target IDs and a higher audible noise level. Locking the receiver to the actual transmitted field, across all frequencies simultaneously (by measuring the current through the coil) solves these issues, creating a very sensitive AND stable detector”
Precisely measuring these extremely small current variations is quite remarkable if you consider the levels involved. It’s actually parts per billion, or nanoamp signals, we are talking about here!
With Multi-IQ, we can derive much greater target ID accuracy and increased detecting performance, especially in ‘difficult’ ground. In ‘mild’ ground, single frequency may perform adequately, BUT depth and stable ID’s will be limited by ground noise; whereas the Multi-IQ simultaneous multi-frequency will achieve maximum depth with a very stable target signal. In ‘strong’ ground, single frequency will not be able to effectively separate the target signal, giving decreased results; whereas Multi-IQ will still detect at depth, losing a minimal amount of target accuracy. This is how we would generally represent the multi-frequency advantage, based on our engineering test data.