Are We Becoming Overly Sensitive?

Crossing my fingers twice today. First I’m hoping against hope that my Giants can somehow beat the Cowboys, and next that the severe weather predicted for later tonight will not develop or not be all that bad. Anything after dark is not good, especially in the overnight hours.  Been there once and it’s worrisome…

On another note it seems noisy detectors are the trend anymore and I thought I would give you my very unscientific take….

The Overly Chatty Detector

Probably the most often asked question in tekkie world today is “why does my detector keep sounding off? Why is it so erratic”? Doesn’t matter what the brand or model is everyone is it seems has the problem. Well I’m here to tell you it’s not a new problem and it’s not a problem without a fix.

Your detector is not chatty, it’s sensitive. Think sensitive like if you were in a really bad mood and someone came up to you and smacked you along side the head. Yup, that kind of sensitive.

Anyway here’s an old dude’s take on the problem….

For as long as I can remember TH’ers screamed for more depth. We were sure the good stuff was just an inch or two deeper and that thinking hasn’t changed.  To that end the manufacturers added an oxymoron control labeled sensitivity (or gain) whose purpose was to –

  1. Allow the detector to be more responsive to metal.
  2. Allow the user to lessen outside interference.

Well over time this feature was improved to the point where now a detector can be too sensitive, too hot, resulting in erratic audio and annoying chatter. This is especially evident when searching mineralized ground and salt water beaches. Add iron infested areas to the mix and it’s bonkers time. Other causes of chatter? EMI (electro magnetic interference). Power lines, underground lines, wi-fi and being in close proximity to another detector running on the same frequency are just a few examples.

So What’s the Answer?

Well I can’t offer brand/model specific solutions. Just too many features/settings and variables that come into play. What I can offer are a few “why didn’t I think of that” generic fixes that just might be the cure all.

The first – duh, turn down the sensitivity until your detector calms down. Yup you might lose a little depth but it’s either that or continue to live in chatter city.

Next be sure your batteries are good, fully charged.

Then as stupid as this sounds make sure your detector is not picking up your shovel, recovery tool or the steel toe of your shoe/boot.

Check your coil. Make sure the cable is securely connected and if you’re using a coil cover remove it to see if perhaps sand or gravel might have gotten in-between the cover and the coil. Once the cover is off look closely at the coil itself and be sure there are no cracks or breaks.

If your detector offers factory set programs (as in beach, relic, coins, etc.) see if one or more might lessen the noise you’re encountering.

If you are able manually ground balance your detector and do it often, especially if you’re hunting difficult ground.

Try switching modes. i.e.. if you’re in all metal try disc and vice versa. Also if you’re in the discriminate mode see if increasing the disc setting helps.

IF your detector offers this feature (and most do today) try changing the frequency. Often times electrical interference in the area is the culprit and a frequency change will solve your problem. Similarly if you’re hunting with a buddy and he or she is close by try moving some distance away and see if that helps.

Opt for a smaller coil. They tend to offer more stability.

Turn off your cell phone. Not always the problem but worth checking to see if it is.

Another possibility? A defective searchcoil. While it’s rare, they can sometimes sneak through the quality control process. Try whacking your searchcoil with your hand and see if that fixes it (If it hurts don’t tell me. I don’t give a rat’s ass).

Of course if you are one of the lucky tekkies with a detector that offers auto or manual noise cancel you are ahead of the game in that you can usually eliminate the chatter without losing depth.

Hope one of the above suggestions works for you. If not I’d suggest contacting your dealer/service center. Before you do however make sure that your problem is universal. i.e., that the chatter or noise occurs all over and not just at one particular site. Good luck.


Nice Website

Received an email from Vaughan Douglas, secretary of the Pilchuck Treasure Hunting Club (Everett, Washington), informing me the group had a new website and would I make the correction on my “Clubs Link” page.  After doing that I gave the site a good look-see and was impressed. Their new site is neat, eye catching and very informative. Here’s the LINK if you’re interested.

Congratulations guys, nice job!




Filed under Metal Detecting

16 responses to “Are We Becoming Overly Sensitive?

  1. john taylor

    excellent suggestions dick! all “dead nuts” accurate! one final suggestion if all the above should fail, walk over to the nearest oak and beat the livin’ sh*t out of whatever brand you are using! make believe it’s a golf club and ya just “shanked” your ball into the drink. won’t change anything, but”may make ya feel better, until ya have to replace it! heh he ehe! (lol!)

    j ( 2-stabs,3rd comin’ up) t.

  2. The only thing that chatters too much is me, according to Patti. Good stuff Mr. Stout! The world of MD chatter has sometimes been viewed as a fault of a particular model of metal detector, by persons with little or no experience in using a machine to the fullest extent of it’s capabilities, and with the social media echo chamber reverberating with that uninformed opinion, some knot-heads actually avoid an excellent machine. In my role as one of those social media administrators, also called “Nazi!” and “Big Ego!” and “Tyrannical Monster Dictator!” by some of the maladjusted digital souls who dislike following the group rules, I have found the excellent Garrett AT-Pro and AT-Max being unjustly maligned as, you probably guessed, as being, “Too sensitive (sob)!” to use in salt water, or heavy mineralization. In almost every case, these were sentiments echoed AND amplified by the unwashed and highly unknowing users who probably never picked up the manual or bothered to try and adjust out the chatter. Nowadays, it a machine can’t t cook dinner or wipe you’re a** for you, it’s considered too complicated or defective by certain users. Good solid advice on ironing out the chatter, Dick! Cheers!

    • Jim I’m probably living in the past but I can’t remember a time when the noise or chatter drove me from a site. It usually meant backing down on sensitivity or working just below the null.

      “Nowadays, it a machine can’t t cook dinner or wipe you’re a** for you, it’s considered too complicated or defective by certain users….” You mean to tell me that’s not in the works?

    • john taylor

      ahhh! the “great unwashed” what would life be without them!
      I’m just sayin’


  3. Ah, sensitivity. The misunderstood adjustment. Every person who I have come across who has complained of chatter, I always ask where they have this set. The answer is always “maximum. I want to go deep!” I then have to explain how sensitivity works. Sure you can eek out more depth at a higher setting, but you pay the price in hearing any little speck of metal in soil. It’s amazing just how much metallic minerals make up soil.

    If I chose to hunt at max, I learn to live with the chatter. It is the strong repeatable signals that get dug.

    The only instance that I have found where none of that matters with the level of sensitivity is when I am in a park that has wiring issues with its irrigation valves or my favorite place to hunt, the park next to the water treatment plant. Every machine that I have used there, except one, sensitivity is a couple points from minimum. The machine I use mostly, I can run it there above half to 3/4 before I get migraine inducing chatter. That’s my experience.

    • Matt the name “sensitivity” ought to be enough of a clue but somehow it’s not. As you said everyone is worried about losing depth and finds that they try and work through it, THEN bitch about it. Hate to use this term but it is what it is and TH’ers just need to accept the situation or move on to greener pastures.

      Personally if the site is really old and has great potential I would work with the chatter and try to listen “through it”…

      Thanks, have a taco for me….

  4. john taylor

    I’m with the reverend on this. “generally” trying to work through “chatter” because of an increased “gain” setting is usually an exercise in futility. reducing gain along with the ability to change “khz” settings usually produces an instrument that will “retain” depth,and lower noise to allow competent hunting in a particularly difficult environment. I’m just sayin’


  5. Ed B.

    You’re absolutely right that hoping the Giants beat the Cowboys is “hoping against hope”.
    And, now we know that they didn’t beat them. I’ve been a Giants fan since the early 1950’s and once again with the team they have on the field it’s “Wait ’til next year”. They are a “trainwreck”. That said, I’ll hope against hope that they beat the Rams……….

    • A Giants fan? So there’s two of us? I’ve been a fan that long as well Ed. A Y.A. Tittle man!! I wish now they had drafted Baker Mayfield instead of Barkley but it is what it is. Go Giants!!

      • Ed B.

        Y.A.Tittle was one of the best trades the Giants ever made. They got him for a lineman named Lou Cordileone. That same year they picked up another of my favorite all time Giants…Del Shofner who just recently passed away. Loved watching the Giants back then because there were only two announcers (Chris Schenkel and Johnny Lujack) and they didn’t try to out talk each other and yak constantly. There were no streamers and other distractions on the screen like they have nowadays. Barkley may have been a draft mistake but maybe not as bad as when they drafted Rocky Thompson…….

      • Wow, Del Shofner, a name from the past. Wouldn’t have thought of him in a million years. I like too that there were fewer teams to keep track of, and like every other sport now the players were tougher. Played hurt.

        I know what you mean about the streamers…annoying.

  6. Thanks for the kind plug, Dick, and taking the time to review our Pilchuck web site.

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