FIELD TEST

Sovereign Xs-2a Pro
By Andy Sabisch
From Page 16
October, 2000 issue of Lost Treasure

Nearly 10 years ago Minelab Electronics in- troduced a new technology to the metal detecting industry that revolutionized how targets were detected and identified in even the worst ground conditions. It took a while for the company from down under to build up a base of users worldwide, but as reports of the success enjoyed by those early coverts spread, the sale of Minelab detectors grew exponentially.

Recently Minelab reviewed their product line and, due to the introduction of the new Explorer series, felt that a change in the price point of their Sovereign model was in order. At the same time, they opted to add a few features to the unit based on feedback they have received from users and dealers worldwide. The result is the new Sovereign XS-2a Pro which has replaced both the Sovereign XS-2 and XS-2 Pro models.

Features

Most of the features of the Sovereign XS-2a Pro are similar to those on its predecessors. It comes with the choice of either an 8-inch coil (all-purpose coil with good target separation and depth) or a 10-inch coil (better ground coverage, increased detection depth but a little more difficult to pinpoint and more susceptible to target masking in trashy sites).

The XS-2a Pro uses Broad Band Spectrum (BBS) technology to operate at 17 different frequencies unlike other detectors, that use one or at most two frequencies. As a result, the Sovereign is able to effectively ignore even the most adverse ground conditions while achieving above-average detection depth and consistent target ID accuracy. All of this is done without the need for any complex adjustments or setup procedures found on many other brands.

The Sovereigns adjustments are made through five knobs and two toggle switches on the face of the control box. The knobs are: Discrimination, Notch; Volume, Sensitivity and Threshold. The toggle switches are: Mode Select (Discrimination or All Metals) and Tone ID Selection.

The biggest difference between this Sovereign and its predecessors and one many people may not immediately see the value of is the Tone ID Selector Switch. A complaint that Minelab has heard from would-be users over the years is that the different tones produced by different targets was too 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.

The digital meter is the same one that came with the XS-2 Pro and takes some time to get used to. It displays a numeric value with negative values indicating iron objects. Non-ferrous objects register from 0 to 550. The display does jump around a few numbers when you pass over a target; however, with a little practice in a test garden or the local school yard will help you make sense of what the meter is telling you. The XS-2a Pro is powered by 8 AA batteries which provide between 15 and 20 hours of operation.

In addition to adding a few new features, the XS-2a Pro does not have a few items that were included with its more expensive predecessor. These include the hipmount bag, rechargeable battery pack and the charger. All of these items are available from your Minelab dealer.

Field Test

The timing for conducting the XS-2a Pro field test was ideal, as I had just been told about several old schools and parks near the town I was staying in central Pennsylvania. With two large, active treasure hunting clubs and several detector dealers in the area I knew I wouldnt be the first person to sweep a coil across the ground at these sites; however, I was optimistic that the XS-2a Pro would prove itself and come up with a few keepers.

The first site I visited was a school built in the 1920s that had recently closed. Being inside the city, there was very little grass to search. As I got my detector ready I saw several plugs lying alongside holes and knew someone else had hunted here recently. After spending 10 minutes filling in the open holes, I began my hunt. Using the 800 (8 inch) coil, I set the DISC control at 10 oclock, left the NOTCH control fully CCW (off) and used the AUTO setting on the Sensitivity control. With a faint threshold hum in my headphones I walked across the grassy area in front of the school. The first few signals were quite loud and I knew from the meter reading that they were probably pull-tabs and screw caps. As a testament to the XS-2a Pros accuracy, thats exactly what they turned out to be. Near a large bush I received a repeatable but weaker signal that registered between 544 and 548 on the meter. Cutting a deep plug, I removed some of the loose dirt at the bottom of the hole. As I was getting ready to check the hole I glanced in and saw the edge of a silver coin sticking out nearly 8 inches down. It turned out to be a 1937 Mercury dime in XF condition. I continued hunting the area on one side of the school for nearly an hour and in that time found 19 coins including four wheat cents dating back to the 1927.

Before I left I switched to the 1000 (10 inch coil) and re-hunted the same area I had just gone over to see if the larger coil might pick up targets that were a little deeper than the 800 coil could reach. I left all of the settings the same as those I had used with the 800 coil to provide a true comparison. I did receive several signals that would not repeat; however, when I switched to All-Metal in order to check them, I found that what I had come across was a large, shallow trash target. That is one drawback to using a larger coil in areas where you are likely to hit large trash targets. I did receive two faint signals that registered good on the meter as I re-checked the area. Marking them, I switched back to 800 coil to see what response I would receive with the smaller coil. One was questionable even knowing there was a target there and the second one was not detectable at all in the AUTO setting. Switching to Manual sensitivity adjusted to 11 oclock did allow the 800 coil to see both targets; however, with the coal cinders in the area, the detector was not as stable as it had been in the AUTO setting. Both targets turned out to be coins a 1917 and a 1910 wheat cent between 9 and 10 inches deep.

All in all, the Sovereign XS-2a Pro functioned perfectly in the highly mineralized ground I used it in. Having hunted the central Pennsylvania area for almost 20 years, I know that many detectors have trouble handling these ground conditions and loose a considerable amount of detection depth because of it. The XS-2a Pro kept a constant threshold at all times, required no additional adjustments as I used it and detected targets at depths of up to 18 inches at the sites I visited.

Summary

Im not a marketing expert so I wont even try to explain the new pricing on the Sovereign XS-2a Pro; however, I will say that at the new lower price, it offers a real bargain in terms of what you get for your money. The new XS-2a Pro sells for $760 with your choice of either the 8 or 10 inch coil. For around $80 more you can get the hipmount bag, nicad pack and charger which then gives you virtually the same detector (less the added features on the XS-2a Pro such as the tone selector switch) that would have cost you almost $200 more with the XS-2 Pro!

Since the price is the same with either coil, consider what you will be using it for when you make your choice. If you plan on hunting wide open beaches or searching for deeply buried relics in areas that are not too overgrown; the 1000 coil is probably the one for you. If you will be hunting for coins in schools and parks or typically search very trashy sites, the 800 coil will be better suited for your needs. If you have any questions, ask your local dealer and if need be, try them both before you buy.

If you have been thinking about trying the Minelab BBS technology but held back because of the cost or the learning curve needed to get accustomed to the multiple tones it produced, you no longer have any excuses. Sovereigns have proven themselves in areas other detectors were unable to detect. It is versatile enough to meet the needs of all types of treasure hunters from coin and relic hunters to avid beach hunters at a new, more affordable price.

The Sovereign XS-2a Pro comes with a 2-year warranty with service performed at the Minelab service center in Las Vegas if required. For more information or to find the name of your local dealer, contact Minelab USA at 2700 E. Patrick Lane, Suite 11, Las Vegas, NV 89210 or (888) 517-2066 / (702) 891-8809 or visit the company web site at http://www.minelab.com
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