The Minelab Vanquish is about to appear in stores within weeks so which model should you go for?
First let’s take a look at what Vanquish is.
The main selling point of the Vanquish range is ‘Multi-iQ’. Minelab’s Simultaneous multi-frequency detection tech. Certainly for beach detecting this piece of proven technology puts Vanquish way ahead of its competition. It is exactly the same detection method employed by the very successful Equinox 600 and 800.
How does Multi-IQ work? Briefly speaking low frequencies typically give more depth on large targets than high frequencies, which are usually more sensitive to small targets. With Multi-iQ you can operate across the full spectrum of frequencies simultaneously for maximum results.
As you can imagine. Multi-IQ provides quite an advantage over other single frequency detectors. Of course it is not as straightforward as that and there are a few single frequency machines that manage quite well on highly mineralised ground. However in my own experience nothing quite matches Multi-IQ.
So given that all three machines in the Vanquish series, Vanquish 340, Vanquish 440 and Vanquish 540 sport the same Multi-IQ tech is it worth spending more money for the top of the range model?
To answer that question you have to ask yourself what are your “essentials” in a detector and what can you compromise on?
Let’s look at my own use as an example. I own the Equinox 600. It’s a great machine. Plenty of features and works flawlessly on the beach where I do most of my searching. However, I only turn it on, adjust the audio and go! I always have the machine in beach 2 mode and never adjust away from the presets. Do I really “need” an Equinox? On my current usage I would say not. In fact most of its features are going completely unused.
As nice a machine as the Equinox is, it does have some drawbacks. First is the stem. Minelab should really have given us a fully telescopic one. As it is the Equinox comes with what I can only describe as a pretty cheap feeling stem that doesn’t collapse down which makes the machine a little awkward to transport. Being non-telescopic also makes it less adjustable for individual users. The armrest also has very minimal adjustment.
The Equinox also suffers from a limited range of quite expensive coils and none at all from third party vendors.
All three Vanquish models as we have seen come with the same Multi-IQ tech as the Equinox so in that respect at least they are equal. They all also have collapsible telescopic stems as well as a fully adjustable armrests so they are much easier to pack up and transport. And of course this makes them much more adjustable to the individual detectorist.
Given how I use my Equinox I am wondering if I could probably do just as well with the basic Vanquish 340. Turn on and go. Simple as that.
However I would be missing a few things that I do make use of. For one the 340 doesn’t have wireless audio so no bluetooth headphones. The 440 doesn’t have that feature either so if I really wanted wireless audio I would need to go for the most expensive model, the Vanquish 540.
The Vanquish 340 and 440 also do not have a backlight for the display. This may not be an issue for you but I often search in the early hours of the morning and a backlight definitely helps. It is not a “must have” of course because I also use a headtorch. So a nice to have feature but not an “essential”.
I do also use the pinpoint mode on the Equinox and this is not present on the Vanquish 340 although it does make an appearance on the 440. Again it is not essential. I have been detecting for over 40 years and most detectors I have used in that time did not come with a pinpoint mode. It is usually easy enough to find the centre point with a few sweeps of the coil anyway.
There are only three search modes on the Vanquish 340. Coin, Jewellery and All Metal. There is no dedicated “Beach Mode” on any of the machines in the range but with Multi-IQ you can just stick the machine in Jewellery mode and go from there. On the Vanquish 440 and 540 there are custom modes for you to set up your own search programs but I would not say that is an essential. I have never set up any custom modes on the Equinox.
Target id on the display is the same for all three Vanquish models and ranges from -9 to 40 the same as the Equinox.
You get 3 target id tones on the Vanquish 340 and 440..which is fine for me as that is all I use anyway. The 540 has 5 tones but again I don’t see that as a “must have”.
There are 3 volume levels on the Vanquish 340 vs 10 levels on the 440 and 540. Is that a big deal? I don’t think so. It is more adjustment than a Garrett Ace 400i for example, which has no volume control at all!
The Vanquish 340 has 5 segments of discrimination. The 440 gets 12 and the 540 is equipped with 25. Is 5 segments of discrimination enough? For me probably yes. I tend to use minimum discrimination anyway and I don’t use notch at all.
Minelab have given the 340 5 levels of sensitivity adjustment. The 440 and 540 have 10 levels. Again I am not sure this is a particularly big deal. I never move from the default of 20 on the Equinox and I am pretty sure I would not need to adjust the levels on the Vanquish 340 that much if at all.
Lastly we have Iron Bias. Now this is actually a very useful feature and although the Vanquish 340 and 440 have iron bias it is fixed at “high”. The 540 has both high and low. So what is iron bias? Simply put it is the ability of the detector to distinguish between both ferrous (junk) and non-ferrous (the good stuff) signals.
If you have for example an iron nail next to a silver coin you may well get a jumpy, undefined signal. Swing in one direction it is a good high tone but swing back over the target and you get a low iron tone. Definitely confusing.
Now if you want to make sure you eliminate all false signals you would normally run iron bias high. This indicates to the machine that when it is over a mixed signal target it should eliminate the high tones. In other words the “bias” is toward iron tones.
Ok so this means you don’t have to keep stopping for those jumpy signals and can concentrate on those repeatable high sounding targets. The trade off however is that you will almost certainly be missing some good but masked targets because the machine is set to put emphasis on iron when it encounters those mixed signals. It is letting you know it is just iron so…move on!
If however you were to set iron bias to “low”, which you can’t on the 340 and 440 the opposite will happen. The high tones will be accentuated at the expense of the low iron tones. This of course means you could well pick out some really good targets that would otherwise have been masked by the iron. It also means that you could be digging a lot of junk too. Still this is metal detecting in 2020 and we have not got to a point where any machine can reliably detect just the good targets.
So where does this leave us with the Vanquish? The problem with the 340 and 440 in having iron bias fixed to “high” is that you will perhaps miss some good targets that have been masked by iron. It is a compromise but, is it one you can accept? Is it one that I can accept? For the answer to that I have to think about how I use the Equinox and I don’t rely on any sort of iron bias. If I get a choppy two way signal I usually dig it anyway. If nothing else it is good exercise and I have sometimes been rewarded with a good find.
Looking at how I use a metal detector and where I use it I could confidently say the Vanquish 340 would do the job and do it probably just as well as my Equinox 600.
The Vanquish 440 and 540 would give me a few more options but, would I really need them?
One thing I should mention. None of the Vanquish line are waterproof, or even showerproof come to that. The coils are of course waterproof but the control boxes are not. Minelab did disingenuously state on the box that the Vanquish is showerproof but what they mean by that is ONLY with the pull on control box cover which comes in the box. It does the job but don’t go dropping your machine in water!
Current UK prices for the Minelab Vanquish are as follows:
Vanquish 340 – £229.00
Vanquish 440 – £299.00
Vanquish 540 – £399.00
Vanquish 540 Pro Pack – £499.00
Which one would you choose?
Interested in the Vanquish? Why not head over to the Minelab Vanquish UK Users Group and share your thoughts.