White’s Electronics is a metal detector manufacturer that needs no introduction. In operation for almost 60 years, they have developed the reputation of building quality equipment with enviable dependability which has often been standard setting in terms of what other manufacturers worked to meet. Following years of development by their engineering staff and countless hours of in-field testing by some of the leading detectorists worldwide, White’s has once again raised the bar in terms of features and performance of high-end detectors.
Their latest addition is called the Spectra V3 and brings technology and features to the metal detecting industry that even six months ago would have been dismissed as being nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of users. After spending a number of hours in the field with this new detector, I realized this field test would be a challenge to cover what the Spectra V3 was capable of within the constraints of the article length, but here goes.
When White’s started developing the V3, they wanted to design a detector that would satisfy the needs of treasure hunters ranging from novice to veteran. They also worked to address comments and requests received from end-users over the years in an effort to set a new standard of performance in terms of detector technology and usability. So, were the engineers successful? Let’s jump into an overview of some of the standout features on the V3 and see.
The Spectra V3 is not simply a mildly updated model that was already in the White’s line, but rather an entirely new unit designed from the ground-up. The Spectra V3 is a VLF-based detector that can operate on three separate frequencies simultaneously for optimal all-purpose hunting, or on any one of the three frequencies when enhanced performance for specific applications is desired.
The frequencies and the type of targets they are optimized for are: 2.5 kHz (copper & silver), 7.5 kHz (brass or simply general hunting), and 22.5 kHz (nickel, gold or small targets). The ability to alter the operating frequency or combine them with a few keystrokes is unique to the V3 and is a real advantage in the field as conditions or needs change.
It uses the familiar proven and rugged metal control box with a new color screen mounted above the padded handgrip…yes you read right – color! The screen – which measures 2.5”x2.75” – was designed to allow it to be easily seen under conditions ranging from direct sunlight to total darkness (thanks to the backlight feature…and the touchpads are also glow in the dark).
Picking up the assembled V3, its exceptional balance is readily apparent. Sporting the new 10” D2 Double-D coil, it feels much lighter than it is, allowing for hours of fatigue-free searching. The D2 coil provides better performance in mineralized soil or areas with a high ferrous-trash content; however, optional coils are available to expand the V3’s versatility.
Turning it on brings up the user-friendly menu system. The initial screen contains six distinct areas of adjustment-PROGRAMS, SENSITIVITY, AUDIO, DISCRIMINATION, FREQUENCY and GROUND TRACKING. There are multiple adjustments or options to choose from in each of these, but the way they were grouped makes it easy to find a specific adjustment when needed. The PROGRAMS option offers users 10 separate pre-defined collections of settings that cover just about any type of detecting you can imagine doing and were developed through extensive real-world testing before the V3’s release.
To start hunting right out of the box, simply press MENU, highlight the PROGRAMS option, press ENTER, select the type of hunting you are interested in, press ENTER again and pull the trigger twice… that’s all there is to it! So, while a beginner can take advantage of the V3’s performance with virtually no adjustment required, experienced hunters can fine-tune it to suit their specific preferences and site conditions through the various menu options.
Before the thought of remembering what individual menu options mean scares you away from the V3, White’s engineers have you covered. When you highlight any menu option, simply press the toggle switch forward and a “balloon” pops up on the screen that provides a short explanation of what the function does. In addition, they renamed some of the functions that were somewhat cryptic on past models with names that make it quite simple to figure out what each does.
All adjustments are made using the eight glow touchpads located beneath the display screen and the trigger switch located in front of the handgrip and, with just a few minutes of practice, navigating through the various screens becomes second nature. Another feature that shows White’s thought of the end-user in the field is the ZOOM function which allows the text on the menus to be enlarged to 1-of-4 levels of magnification, making the menu easy to read and hence adjust as needed.
When searching, three screens provide a great deal of useful information. With the trigger in the middle position, the V3 is in the SEARCH mode and brings up the Signagraph data in the center of the screen. It shows the strength of individual frequencies being processed which aids in target identification. Also displayed will be a target ID value (ranging from -95 to +95), icon(s) indicating probable target ID, target depth, icons showing the status of specific features and another unique feature called “Live Controls” along the bottom of the screen. Pushing the trigger forward places the V3 in the 2nd search mode called ANALYZE. While much of the information is the same as shown in the SEARCH mode, the center region now displays lines called “Target Signatures” which can provide not only valuable target ID information, but target sizing as well.
An innovative feature associated with the Target ID icons that are displayed is tha,t depending on the PROGRAM selected, different icons will appear; i.e., coins, relic, prospecting, etc. Holding the trigger in the rear position activates the PINPOINT mode. No motion is required to detect targets in this mode and the center section changes to provide signal strength on each of the operating frequencies, which is helpful when trying to pinpoint a good target amongst trash.
The V3’s LIVE CONTROLS feature is unique to LCD touchpadcontrolled detectors and has proven to be a real asset in the field. Unlike other touchpad detectors where you have to exit the search mode to make adjustments via a menu selection, V3 users can actually scroll along the bottom of the screen, select a specific set of functions to adjust and call them up while still detecting.
Once you come across a target, you can make fine adjustments to any function to enhance the response as you continue to sweep the coil over the object. Once you get the optimal response, a few keystrokes and you can save it for future use. LIVE CONTROLS simulates the functionality of a knob found on non-computerized detectors and allows you to make “on-the-fly” adjustments to hone the Spectra’s performance.
For those that like to customize things to suit their needs, the V3 is the most versatile detector on the market today. Any of the settings can be adjusted for optimal performance and personal preference, and these adjustments can be easily stored in the on-board library with unique names and recalled for later use. Not only can any specific function be adjusted, but items such as the specific colors used on individual screens, tonal response from individual targets, icons displayed for specific targets or groups of targets, and program names can be changed and saved. Saved files can even be shared between other V3’s using the unique wireless communication system built into each unit! NOTE: All programs and settings are retained even when the battery pack is removed.
Speaking of wireless, have you ever been hunting and either stepped on your headphone cord or gotten snagged on a tree branch? Well, the V3 has a unique, wireless headphone system integrated into the onboard circuitry that eliminates the cord and has no audio delay typical to other wireless headsets on the market. A useful benefit of the wireless system is that you can have multiple users listening to one V3 if a training session is desired. Corded headphones as well as the built-in speaker can also be used.
The V3 comes with two drop-in battery packs – one being a NiMH rechargeable pack (with a charger included) and the other designed to hold 8 AA batteries. A NiCad pack is also available and the type of battery in use can be selected from the menu for more accurate monitoring of battery life. The NiMH pack provides 10-12 hours on a charge.
As with any new detector, the first place I took the V3 was my test garden where I could see how it responded to known targets at known depths. Trying a few of the factory-provided programs, including COINS, RELIC & DEEP SILVER, the “out-of-the-box” performance was quite impressive. Even more impressive was the LIVE CONTROLS feature which allowed me to tweak several settings to bring the deeper targets, or those adjacent to trash, in even stronger than they had. I found the Live Controls to be very intuitive and clearly improved performance with on-the-fly adjustments as I swept across the buried targets.
With a well-established local club, most of the “easy-to-find” sites have been hunted many times over the past 30 years, but, as they say, no place is ever really hunted out…it just depends on how much time you are willing to put into finding what’s left. Hoping to see what the V3 could do in a few of these sites, I selected sites that dated back to the 1800’s, including two parks and an old cotton mill ball field.
Starting with the basic COIN & JEWELRY program, I made a few adjustments to options in the SENSITIVITY & AUDIO menus, quickly ground balanced the detector and started hunting.
NOTE: While the V3 does provide for automatic ground tracking, manually setting the ground balance when starting is highly recommended. It is quite simple and takes under 30 seconds to accomplish. The first 30 minutes turned up a fair number of clad coins and the typical modern trash. Since I was testing the detector, I recovered all repeatable signals and found the ID accuracy to be deadon in most cases. I preferred the ANALYZE mode since it provided both the Target Signature display as well as the sizing information, which I recognized as being a help in identifying and ignoring some larger, mangled trash items that produced questionable target ID readings.
Near the back of one park, I received a softer sounding signal and gave a picture-perfect sine wave Target Signature on all three frequencies indicating a coin-sized object. To see if I could enhance the response, I brought up the Live Controls for SENSITIVITY, DISCRIMINATION & GROUND BALANCE/TRACKING.
Adjusting selected options in both, I found that, with slight changes, the signal came through stronger and provided a more consistent target ID. A few keystrokes allowed me to save these settings. Pinpointing was simple and removing a deep plug-about 8”- revealed the edge of a coin. Pulling it free, I was surprised to see it was an Indian Head penny dated 1905 and the first one I had ever found at this park.
Several trips to sites in nearby Charlotte netted me more then twodozen older coins dating back to the late 1800’s from areas others and I had hunted extensively in the past. The “tweaked” programs brought out more of the V3’s true potential and, with each trip, subtle adjustments produced better results and were saved for future use.
A few old foundation sites also proved to be a good test of the V3’s RELIC mode. With just a few adjustments to the preset options, such as sensitivity levels, audio options and ground filters, targets were readily detected and identified at depths exceeding 12” for items such as spoons, shoe buckles and the usual “what-is-its” one finds relic hunting.
I took the V3 with me to the Treasure Expo held in Myrtle Beach in early-April and, while the crowds had not been there to leave goodies, it would provide an opportunity to see how it handled black sand and saltwater. Heading down to the beach one evening, I simply selected the SALT BEACH program, did a quick ground balance on the wet sand and started searching.
Having used other White’s detectors such as the M6 and DFX, as well as other conventional VLF-detectors in this environment before with less than impressive results (falsing, chattering & limited sensitivity), the V3 was clearly at home in the wet sand region. Signals were few and far between due to the time of year, and at times I had to pass my scoop over the coil to make sure it was still operating; there was no falsing and the threshold was “rock-solid.” The deepest target I recovered in the wet sand was a pull-tab at 10”+ and coins came through clearly down to just shy of that, but even lifting the coil a few inches off the ground produced signals that would have been recovered.
As I walked back to the hotel across the dry sand, I picked up a thin gold chain bracelet laying stretched out at 3”. A friend swept the area before recovering it with another high-end detector and could not get a signal. Overall, the V3 handled wet, black sand better than almost any other VLF-detector and was able to obtain fairly impressive detection depth using the predefined SALT BEACH program.
Unfortunately with the space constraints of this article, there are a number of features I was not able to cover in the level of detail I would have liked; however, this information, along with details of my in-field experiences and specific adjustments made in the course of the testing, are provided in the on-line version of this report at LostTreasure.com.
The effort put forth by the engineers at White’s is clearly evident in the new Spectra V3, starting with the outward appearance and construction to the first-rate user-interface and ending with the actual in-field performance it provides.
It is a detector that can be used right out of the box by someone that wants the best without complicated adjustments, yet offers even the most discriminating and experienced detectorist the ability to truly tailor it to fit their personal preferences or hunting styles.
Each time I have been out with it, or talked to another V3 user with more time under their belt than I do, I’ve learned something new and found yet another way to get a tad more performance out of it. Years of development and testing went into the V3’s design and, while it is clearly a well thought-out piece of equipment, I’m certain that owners will find ways to set or use it that may never even have been contemplated by the engineers.
The V3 comes with the standard 2- year transferable warranty, instructional DVD and retails for $1,699.95 with the wireless SpectraSound headphones, or $200 less without them. Accessories and optional coils are available. Contact the factory at 1011 Pleasant Valley Road, Sweet Home, OR 97386, (800) 547-6911, or visit their website at Whiteselectronics. com for more information and be sure to mention you read about the latest addition to the White’s line in Lost Treasure Magazine.