Minelab Electronics started building metal detectors for the Australian gold rush in 1984. However, it was not until 1989 when they ventured into the treasure detector market with the introduction of the Sovereign. This model used the first of several circuits introduced over the ensuing years that have revolutionized the metal detector industry. Minelab has earned the reputation of a company that develops truly innovative detector technology rather than simply repackaging existing circuitry.
I had the opportunity to work with Minelab in testing the new Quattro MP as it approached the actual production point and was impressed not only with the performance of the detector but the ability of the engineering & management teams to make rapid changes when issues were brought up related to the design of the unit. Having used the Quattros brother the Explorer for the past few years, I saw through the testing that the Quattro would provide users with a similar level of performance in virtually any ground condition.
In 1999, Minelab revolutionized metal detector technology when they introduced the Explorer series featuring a new-patented circuit called, Full Band Spectrum (FBS). Unlike other non-Minelab detectors that operate at one or perhaps two frequencies, the FBS circuitry transmitted 28 different frequencies simultaneously. In addition, by extending the upper frequency range 100 kHz and enabling the detectors circuitry to automatically select what specific frequencies are best for each specific site it is used at, the Explorer was able to provide even greater detection depth and accuracy of target identification. Well, despite the overwhelming success of the Explorer series, a number of would-be users felt that the number of options available were more than they felt comfortable with and settled for another make or model. Minelabs engineers listened and after more than a year of research and development, released the Quattro MP, which offers FBS-performance with a simple-to-use interface. The Quattros LCD screen offers a great deal of information in a new, easy-to-read format. To adjust most of the settings, simply press the MENU/SELECT touchpad on the control housing to bring up the menu screen. From here, you can adjust Sensitivity, Threshold, Noise Cancel (better done through the touchpad on the housing face), Volume, Contrast, and Trash Density. With the exception of Noise Cancel and Trash Density, the other options are self-explanatory. Noise Cancel is really the secret behind the in-field success of the Quattro and the Explorer models. When this option is selected, the internal circuitry automatically determines the group of frequencies that will provide the best performance for the specific area being searched based on ground conditions and outside electrical interference. There are no complicated manual adjustments needed to get the most out of your detector anymore! The Trash Density option is another new software algorithm developed by Minelabs engineers to help users find valuable targets masked by nearby trash that others have missed for decades. If you find yourself in an extremely trash-filled area, this option will allow the circuitry to reset faster and pick out a good target from amongst numerous unwanted targets. The sweep speed is also a bit faster in this mode although a slight loss of detection depth target ID accuracy will be noticed. The HIGH setting is more of a specialty option than something that would be used on a regular basis. However, in challenging situations, it will result in more finds that could otherwise have been made. The LCD screen itself provides users with indications of what search mode is in use (there are four preset search modes and four custom modes that can be saved), battery strength, target depth (down to 12 inches), target ID (in the form of a number ranging from -10 to +40, a picture icon for various targets and a cursor on the bottom of the screen), audio mode (either based on a targets ferrous or conductive content) and when in the pinpoint mode, a visual display to help you accurately center the target. The Quattro classifies detected targets as being either ferrous or non-ferrous and then assigns a number to the target based on its sensed composition. Ferrous targets register from -10 to -1, while non-ferrous targets register from 0 to +40. The number produced for specific targets is very consistent, even at the fringe of detection depth, so once you have practiced with samples of the type of targets you are looking for (or want to reject) you will be able to easily identify targets before recovering them. Targets can also identified by the pitch of the audio signal they produce based on either their Ferrous or Conductive composition. Switching between the two types of audio response is quite simple and with a little practice on known targets, you can easily identify targets that other detectors would have a tough time differentiating such as gold rings & pull-tabs or brass buttons & shotgun casings. The Quattro is powered by eight AA batteries, which provide up to 14 hours of use. Optional NiMH rechargeable packs are available from Minelab or you can use 1600+mAh NiMH batteries available locally with no adverse impact on performance.
With a few months of use under my belt, Ill touch on some of the different applications I was able to use the Quattro in to demonstrate its versatility. Since coin hunting is the most popular form of metal detecting, well start there. When I field test a detector I try not to take it to a spot that has never been hunted before since that really does not give a true indication of how well it performs. . after all, could any detector have found the coins and other keepers or does the detector being tested really excel in finding what others have missed? Well, over a three-month period I used the Quattro at some heavily hunted sites in the Carolinas, north Georgia and Pennsylvania. One of these sites was one that had been the site of several club hunts over the years and was frequented on a regular basis by detector users from the surrounding area a college campus that dated back to the late 1800s. Even with the ground being fairly dry in most areas, I was able to recover close to 100 coins dating back to the early 1900s at depths of up to nine inches. On a few occasions, I had a friend with me that was an experienced detectorist using a top-of-the-line detector who checked the signals from the Quattro. In many cases, he either was not able to detect anything or said that based on what his detector indicated the target was not worth recovering. In all but two cases, the signals had been from deeply buried coins! I had similar results in a park that had been the site of an old amusement park alongside the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania that many others and I had hunted for quite some time. Since the park was still in use, there was a fair amount of recently lost stuff both trash and coins but I wanted to focus on trying to find a few older valuables I knew were still there. Quickly setting up a discrimination pattern that eliminated everything but nickels and copper/silver/clad coins, I started hunting near what had been the old swimming pool. I knew targets would be deep with the silt deposited every time the river flooded so I used manual sensitivity set at 17. With the exception of an occasional chirp, the Quattro ran extremely stable with no falsing or chattering. I ignored the first few signals that the LCD screen showed to be just under the surface. Near a large oak tree, I received a solid 37 signal that indicated to be about eight inches deep. After a few minutes struggling with rocks and tree roots, I saw the glint of silver from the edge of the hole and pulled out a 1924 Mercury dime in excellent condition. I spent almost two hours here ignoring anything that was shallower than four inches or so and was quite impressed with my take. In addition to the one Mercury dime, I had recovered three more along with a well-worn Barber dime, seven wheat cents, a token from the railroad that had brought patrons to the old park and surprisingly, a 1978 quarter that had been almost six inches deep. Notably absent were any other clad coins or trash. I used the Quattro along the beaches of Charleston, South Carolina, that are known to be a real challenge to beach hunters due to the heavy concentration of black sand found along this stretch of coastline. Luckily, I visited the beaches in the summer when people were loosing things unlike my usual trips here, which are usually in the dead of winter where the only things you find are what the other detectorists have missed (or lost themselves). I used both the stock 10.5 and 15 WOT coil from Coiltek and was extremely satisfied with the performance of both on the Quattro. Using the AUTO sensitivity setting in the wet sand/surf section, coins and other items such as keys and a few pieces of gold jewelry were detected at depths I really hate to put in print (current Minelab users know what I mean). I was glad I had brought my heavy-duty scoop on these trips. There was no falsing typically experienced on most detectors in the part of the beach and both target ID and depth indications were accurate even at extreme depths. The coil is waterproof up to the connector at the control housing and I actually did a little shallow water hunting to see if the salt water washing over the coil would cause any problems. The Quattro operated flawlessly in the AUTO setting and several 10-inch-plus coins were detected and recovered. Being able to spend time in the midst of the Civil War battlefields surrounding Atlanta, Georgia, every few months is definitely a plus when it comes to my job. On one of these trips to Atlanta, I took the Quattro along and visited a site that Ive hunted on-and-off for several years. It was part of the southern defenses of Atlanta when the city had been under siege by General Sherman. There were still some trench works visible; however, the leaf/top soil cover made any target quite deep. Opting for the RELIC search mode, I set the sensitivity to 18 in Manual and changed the audio response from Ferrous to Conductivity. Pressing the Noise Cancel and allowing the circuitry to select the optimal frequency set, I started hunting along the edge of the ridge. Unfortunately, the site was not in the best section of town and there was a good deal of surface trash ranging from wine bottle caps and beer cans to empty syringes. Using the same technique I has used in the old amusement park; i.e., ignoring shallow signals, I soon came across a solid signal that registered 31 with the depth indicator almost completely empty (~10). At about the indicated depth I recovered a dropped .58-caliber cleaner bullet. A few hours at the site turned up about a dozen more bullets along with two Confederate buttons and a few unidentifiable prices of brass . . . all from depths of up to 12 inches. Before heading back to South Carolina, I stopped at a small Union campsite north of Marietta that was well known but extremely trashy. The Quattros threshold nulled almost continuously as the coil passed over rejected targets, so I opted to use the Trash Density HIGH option to reduce the possibility of a trash target masking an adjacent good item. The nulling was reduced and I was able to pick out three bullets and a scabbard tip from a section that was littered with nails and other pieces of ferrous trash. The good targets were easily discerned by the high-pitched audio signals and the LCD indications, although the target ID numbers did jump around a bit unlike the rock-steady ID when the LOW option was used. But, the HIGH option did allow me to make a few finds in an area that I had steered clear of in the past due to all the trash. Knowing when to use the Quattros various options makes it a truly versatile detector!
Minelabs engineering team has hit-another-home-run with the Quattro MP in terms of combining exceptional performance with an extremely simple user interface. The Quattro is truly an all-purpose detector that can be used right from the box by anyone novice or seasoned pro - with first-rate results. The name truly fits . . Quattro means four and it was designed to meet the needs of coin hunters, relic hunters, beach hunters and just plain old general treasure hunters, which is exactly what what it does!
Unfortunately, as with other detectors I have tested in the past with innovative features, space limitations in this print-version field test preclude me from delving into the Quattros features in as much depth as I would have liked. The on-line report on the Lost Treasure website contains more details and a visit to your local Minelab dealer for a hands-on demonstration will be time well spent if you are even considering a new detector.
The Quattro retails for $995. It comes with the 10.5 Double-D coil and a two-year parts and labor warranty with service handled by the US repair center. An optional 8 coil is available from Minelab.
For the name of your nearest dealer or for more information on the Quattro MP contact Minelab USA at 871 Grier Drive, Suite B-1, Las Vegas, NV 89119, call them at 702-891-8809, or at their web site at www.minelab.com and be sure to mention you read about the new Quattro MP in Lost Treasure magazine.