Metal Detector Frequency – Explained

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Cory Haasnoot

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For anyone unsure about using a metal detector, it’s easy to see why. These can be quite confusing products to use, especially if you are still new to the industry as a whole. One reason why many people are unsure about using a metal detector, though, comes down to their frequency.

Frequencies are very important when it comes to using a metal detector, though, so it does pay to put more time into the understanding before doing anything else.

Before you can really get the most out of a metal detecting experience, you do need to understand the importance of the frequency side of things.

There’s more to it than the brand…

Garrett Ace 300 Metal Detector

When you go to buy a metal detector, it’s easy to get caught up in the immediate things, the aesthetics, the cost, and the brand. However, being truthful, none of these factors matter quite as much as getting the right metal detector frequency.

Getting a frequency that works is going to be important, but getting one that works for what you intend to use your metal detector for is even more important.

It is one of the most important parts of buying a metal detector, without a doubt. If you always focus on the other factors such as the brand, then you might wish to take a look at the frequency first. Once you know what kind of frequency you actually need, it can become much easier to make the right choice of metal detector frequency.

What impacts on the frequency?

The main thing that can impact on the frequency is going to be the coil itself. The coil plays a big role in making sure that you have enough power in your search. Search Coils are made to try and make sure that you can look for certain products in certain conditions. For example, using something with a lower frequency on the beach normally makes more sense.

We recommend that you look for something with a low frequency if you want to penetrate the ground deeper. Higher frequencies can find more obscure items, but don’t tend to penetrate to the same level of depth. This is impacted by the coils, though. Coils with a lower frequency make the most sense when looking for something large but buried deep.

Meanwhile, something with larger coils – something in the 18khZ range – could be used for looking for smaller targets that are buried a bit closer to the top. If you are hunting for scrap, go low frequency. If you are hunting for coins and memorabilia, you should definitely go for something a bit more powerful than beforehand.

Another factor that can have n impact comes from the condition of the ground. If the ground is high in moisture and in salt content, then you can find that the frequency can be quite incorrect.

It usually comes down to things like the condition of the ground when you look around. Always be sure to look into the ground quality and conditions of where you are going to be detecting – this can help you prepare for the chance of false positives.


What does the frequency actually mean?

For those who are very new to the concept of metal detecting, you might not be sure what any of this means. Typically, the frequency is going to be pointing to the number of electronic waves that the machine can send into the ground. This frequency is the part that actually detects the metal in the first place.

The number (as you will see below) can seem quite confusing. It’s managed in a ‘per second’ frequency rating. So, if you were to buy something with a 1.5kHz rating, then it would be capable of sending and receiving 1,500 different times every single second. Of course, this only continues to go up and up as you buy more and more powerful metal detectors.

However, before you go ahead and just buy the most powerful detector that you can, stop a minute. The power is not always the ‘best’ factor. More frequency does not always mean more metals to be found. That can seem quite confusing at first, but it really isn’t as confusing as it might first seem if you look closely into it.

In this article, we’ll try and break down all of these factors so that you can better understand the confusion that revolves around this particular topic. Hopefully, it’ll make buying a metal detector a bit easier for you.

Typical metal detector frequency ranges

High and low frequency screenshot.

So, the first thing that you likely want to spend some time looking into is the metal detector frequency. It’s important to get that right, as it’s so easy to buy something with the wrong range. Typically, though, you will find that the average frequency range can be very high indeed.

The most common starting point would be around 1.5kHz. However, it can go much higher than this. You can often find that something in the region of 100kHz can be found if you look around. The frequency will depend on various factors, though.

  • One of the major factors that will play a role in the frequency is just how conductive the target itself is. The higher the conductivity is, the lower the frequency should be.
  • Also, the size of your target is going to matter a fair bit. Typically, the size of the target matters – the smaller the target, the higher the frequency.
  • Another important decision when looking at frequency will be the depth of the target. Typically, the deeper the target is, the lower the frequency is going to be.

While this can all seem rather confusing, it’s not something you should be too worried about. With a bit of reading about, you should have no problem in working out just what you should be getting by using a product like this.

Frequency ranges for gold and silver

Gold and Silver coins and bars

For the most part, the most common things to look for when metal detecting include gold and silver. If you do intend to go down this route, then we recommend you focus on the following:

  • If you are searching for gold in particular, then you want something with a higher frequency. This is because most of the time you will be finding nuggets of gold, which are extremely small. The high-frequency metal detectors out there will be good for finding low conductivity items, such as gold. These are great for more accurate finds, so long as it’s close to the surface.
  • However, if you are looking for gold jewelry then we recommend you go for something a touch lower down the frequency ladder. A mid-range solution is great for finding larger pieces of gold for the most part.
  • If you are going to be looking for silver, then you want to try and make sure that you look for something a bit more in the low-frequency range. Low frequency works best for silver because it tends to be a high-conductivity target. This means that it can be hard to find smaller targets, though, so you might need to find a balance between low to high frequencies.

So, the challenge is often finding a frequency range that can help you to find items in the size and the metal style you were hoping for.

Multi-frequency metal detectors

Multi frequency Metal Detector.

Before we look at general metal detector frequencies, though, it’s important to note that metal detecting comes in various shapes and forms. One of the most important things to note is that you do get solutions that come with more than a single frequency.

While most devices have on a single frequency, some come with a frequency range. Typically, anything below 30kHz is good for finding larger items, whilst anything above 30kHz is good or finding smaller and low-conductive metals. The higher the frequency, though, the harder it is to get through the ground.

If you are looking for something a bit more all-purpose, then you should absolutely look to get something with multiple frequency ranges to pick from. Some of these models can even run at more than one frequency at a time, making it easy for you to look around for very specific and particular finds.

Typically, though, the best place to start is to locate a mid-range frequency – something that allows you to find both small and large items. The higher the frequency, though, the more likely it is that you cannot pierce the ground to the same level that you would have needed or wanted.

General metal detecting frequencies

Metal Detector Frequency

While most people will be using metal detectors to look for gold, in particular, we know that others might be using them for silver. What about other metals, though?

Before we look at the ‘big two’ we want to take a quick look at the general information that you might need about finding the right kind of frequency. This can be quite confusing for the most part, so we want to try and cover this in as much detail as we can without confusing you!

So, the first thing that you need to do is that you need to know what kind of metal you are looking for, Let’s say that you are looking for something like copper or brass. These are known as ‘high conductivity’ metals and thus they tend to be quite a good choice for most people to look for. You should usually find something in the ~3kHz range should be more than enough for this particular kind of searching.

Most metals are going to be found with a frequency of around 9-10kHz, though. This is because the majority of metals you will find out there will be the likes of tin, stainless steel, or zinc. Most metals can be found simply by keeping this in mind as you look around. You might actually want to start looking out for things like filters for your metal detector.

For example, most people have no intention of picking up any iron or any kind of garbage they find stuck underground. With enough adjustment, you should be able to turn off your metal detector from wanting to find iron and general debris.

By using something in the correct range, you’ll be left with little doubt as to what your metal detector has actually picked up.

Using the right metal detector

Man metal detecting on the beach.

One of the most challenging parts of metal detecting is making sure you use the right kind of tool for the project. For example, if you are going to be going along the beach or some other light surfaces looking for metal, you need the correct kind of detector.

You should look to buy either a Pulse Induction (PI) or Very Low Frequency (VLF) metal detector. For just about any kind of beach metal detecting trip, this should be more than good enough to suit your personal needs. It just depends on what one you think would be more suited to you.

For example, PI detectors have a receiver and transmitter built into the one coil. This means that they can start pulsing which creates the magnetic field that you need. Upon the end of the pulse, it will reflect back to the same place and give you a reading if anything is to be found.

I think that this is the most common choice for the majority of people who intend to hit up the beach for their metal detecting activities.

What’s right for me as a beginner?

If you are getting started out in metal detecting for the first time, then you want to make sure that you buy something in the 5-10kHz range. This is a solid starting point for most newbies. It should give you a chance to get used to the process, and also pick up a few goodies along the way.

However, as time goes on, a 5-10kHz range metal detector can soon feel quite lacking. If you find this is the case, then you should definitely look to step it up to something more specialized. Really, though, it all depends on what you intend to go chasing.

Just remember, then, that you are not buying the brand alone. You also need to factor in the importance of having a high-quality solution. We highly recommend that you look to get something that is right for you as a beginner. It’s something that you should absolutely look to do if you are looking to improve your knowledge of the industry.

So long as you start with something in the 5-10kHz range, though, you should be able to get started easily enough. Then, you can focus on getting some more specific depending on your intended searches.

Thanks for reading and I hope you found what you were looking for in this article about metal detector frequency. Until next time Happy Treasure Hunting!

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Author: Cory Haasnoot

Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.

6 thoughts on “Metal Detector Frequency – Explained”

  1. Great explanation on frequencies that metal detectors use. I love my PI and my V3i each has its benefits I run all 3 frequencies in parks & dry sand. V3i hates the salt water sand, PI loves the beach but will pick up EMI static if high power lines are nearby. You have to learn to hear the dual tones for different metals, V3i has visual display to see conductivity.
    My motto “Silence is not Golden”

    • Thank you, Bob. I’m glad you found the article helpful. It’s always great to hear about other metal detectorists’ use of their machines. Thanks again and happy treasure hunting!

  2. Hello dirt hunting Brothers,, ⛏️. Running all metal with T-2.. is a award winning benefit of gold Finds.. Lil bit’ a noise ‘ but we’ll worth the harvest..⛏️🤠 .


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