Minelab Electronics has developed the reputation of a company that develops 'cutting-edge' metal detection technology and produces high-quality detectors that make use of these innovations
The original Sovereign was introduced in 1991 and over the years Minelab has made numerous enhancements to its proven design. Treasure hunters worldwide have found that the Sovereign's multi-frequency circuit effectively eliminates adverse effects of mineralization and allows targets to be detected at depths previously unreachable.
The ongoing evolution of the Sovereign continues with the introduction of the new Sovereign Elite. Since I now live in a part of the country with heavy ground mineralization, I was anxious to see how the new Elite handled these conditions when I heard one was enroute to me.
Minelab introduced an innovative circuit called Broad Band Spectrum (BBS) with the original Sovereign. Unlike other detectors that use one or at most two frequencies, the Sovereign actually sends out 17 different frequencies ranging from 1.5 kHz to 25.5 kHz in 1.5 kHz intervals. This allows the Elite to simply ignore ground mineralization rather than having to continually adjust for these conditions resulting in above-average detection depth and more consistent target ID accuracy. The feature that has made the Sovereign series so popular is that this performance is obtained without the need for any complex adjustments or setup procedures it's truly a turn-on-and-go detector.
Most of the features of the new Sovereign Elite are similar to those of its predecessors. It comes standard with a new Tornado 1000 Slimline (10-inch) Double-D search coil which is noticeably lighter than the 1000-series coils on previous Sovereign's. The Tornado 800 coil is available as an option and is also lighter than previous 8-inch coils. Any of the older Sovereign coils from Minelab or aftermarket companies will work on the new Elite.
The Sovereign's adjustments are made through five knobs and three toggle switches on the face of the control box. The knobs are Discrimination; Notch; Volume; Sensitivity and Threshold. The toggle switches are Mode Select; i.e., Discrimination or All Metals, Tone ID Selection and Noise Cancel
The function of the Discrimination, Notch, Volume & Threshold controls are fairly obvious and don't require any additional explanation. The Sensitivity knob has an AUTO position which allows the detector to automatically adjust the sensitivity level to provide stable operation for the current ground conditions. A slight loss of detection depth will be noted as compared to manually setting the sensitivity level; however, the ease of use may outweigh the marginally reduced detection depth.
The Tone ID Selector Switch was added to the Elite's predecessor the XS-2a Pro -based on feedback from some new users. The comment was that the different tones produced by different targets were confusing to learn in conjunction with the different response produced by the BBS circuitry itself. This was especially true when someone had years of experience with another brand that simply had a single tone for all targets. Well, even though the different tones do help one identify targets quite accurately, users can now turn that feature off while they learn how a BBS detector responds and later, when they are more comfortable with what it is telling them, switch the variable tones back on with the flick of a switch.
The Noise Cancel switch has two positions Band 1 & Band 2. It was added to allow the adverse effects of electrical interference sometimes experienced when hunting near power lines, radio towers or even other metal detectors to be eliminated or at least minimized. If the Elite becomes erratic, switching to another Band may take care of the problem.
The Elite comes with a digital target ID meter that mounts on the shaft in front of the handgrip. It provides a 3-digit number when the coil passes over a target that can be used to determine what one has detected prior to recovering it. The manual covers how to adjust the meter for different coil sizes and learning what numbers correspond to specific targets you might be searching for.
The control housing has been redesigned and easily snaps onto either of the two new mounting clips on the shaft. The housing can be mounted in any of three positions in front of the handgrip, underneath the arm rest or hipmounted using the optional hipmount bag.
The Elite is powered by a standard NiMH rechargeable battery system which provides 15 hours of operation. The wall charger is included and both a car-charger and AA battery pack that holds alkaline batteries are available from your Minelab dealer as options.
Over a three-week period I had the chance to try out the Elite at several spots throughout northeast & central Pennsylvania. When I field test a detector I try to take it to sites that have been hunted before or have conditions that challenge most detectors and these were the guidelines I used to select sites to search. I feel the best way to determine how well a particular model performs is not by taking it to a virgin site loaded with easy-to-find targets but rather those that make one work for the goodies.
The first site I took the Sovereign Elite to was a well-hunted abandoned high school in a nearby town built in 1903. The school only has a small grassy area out front and being on the main street in town, has been hunted regularly by detectorists for more than 40 years. In addition, the yard had a layer of coal cinders from the old heating system which made for some challenging ground conditions.
Setting the Notch control to MIN, the Disc control to FOIL, and the Sensitivity control in manual at 9 o'clock I started hunting near the school's sidewalk. After receiving several false signals from the ground mineralization, I reduced the sensitivity slightly and continued hunting with a slight constant threshold. As expected, signals were few and far between. The first few signals registered between 490 & 500 on the digital meter and turned out to be pull tabs as expected. After covering almost 25% of left section of the yard, I received my first good signal that read 555. At a depth of almost 9 inches, I recovered a 1928 wheat cent. The next few signals registered in the 520 530 range and resulted in several screw caps winding up in my pouch. Near the face of the building some large bushes had recently been removed exposing ground that had previously been unreachable. As I approached the stumps, I received several solid, repeatable signals that read 550 or higher (indicative of coins; i.e., pennies, dime quarters, etc.) From between 6 and 9 inches, I recovered 11 coins all dated prior to 1950!
I spent nearly 3 hours at this site and was quite impressed with the Elite's performance. While I did recover a number of trash targets, the fact that they were not coins was easily discernible based on the digital meter display. The coal cinders had not affected the Elite's ability to detect deeply buried targets as evidenced by the 21 coins I had recovered.
The next area I visited was the site of an old picnic area located near a high-voltage electrical transmission line. I had made a few nice finds in the past along with other detectorists I had brought to the site; however, hunting directly beneath the lines typically resulted in little more than frustration due to the electrical interference they produced.