The Spectrum is a proud display of how far Whites Electronics microprocessor controlled detectors have come in such a short time. Although the predecessors of this instrument did have many features that could be adjusted just by pushing a few buttons, I find that the Spectrum gives the operator even more adjustments or, better stated, almost every possible adjustment a person could want.
It would be easy to dwell on the multitude of features, adjustments, etc. for the entire report but that wouldnt really explain the instrument so I have opted to incorporate many of the explanations during the use and will only cover the main features at this time.
In stead of a handful of knobs and switches to fiddle with, the Spectrum has 5 push-button keypad type switches located directly below the large, sophisticated, but simple LCD display. The switches are as follows; MENU, Up arrow, ENTER, Down arrow, ON/OFF. Instead of the usual twisting of a knob, the operator merely pushes one or more buttons in the right sequence for selections and adjustments. To assist the operator in the field, Whites has a brief list of adjustments on both the top and bottom of the instrument.
To assist in learning the Spectrum, Whites Electronics provides a large easy to read manual, plus a smaller Spectrum Guide. The two pamphlets do a very good job of explaining the adjustments. However, some of the more sophisticated adjustments will probably need further explanations for maximum understanding and best setting. Fortunately, additional information is available either from Whites or third parties.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS AND HINTS:
Right out of the box, I found the Spectrum to be very easy to get operating. Assembly was quick, simple, and took only a few minutes. More importantly, by following the instructions located on the machine, I found I was able to immediately start testing the instrument if I so elected. However, I decided to take time to go through the manuals to better familiarize myself with the adjustments.
One feature I really liked was the thought process Whites Electronics put into their pleasing the customer. One obvious point was the fact that they supplied both S nicad battery pack (which normally needs to be charged for several hours) and another battery pack complete with standard batteries for instant use. Its obvious they listen to their customers and are willing to go that extra mile for them.
Initial testing was extremely simple, just turn the instrument on, wait for the logo on the display to disappear and follow the basic instructions. If I elected to start with the preset selections all I had to do was to hit the Enter pad when the preset programs menu appeared, and then follow the simple ground balance procedure. With this setting, the unit will come up in the coin hunting mode with a respectable sensitivity and rejection of typical trash targets such as foil, pull-tabs, iron, etc.
If an owner did nothing more than select from the 6 different selections of programs, he or she would have an extremely versatile instrument. However, this would be like buying a high performance sports car to drive to the store. In other words, to get the full potential out of this instrument, one should learn the options available and take advantage of them.
I could see how a novice might be somewhat intimidated by all the possible adjustments at first. However, with a little patience and practice, plus taking a little time to experiment, I found making the more common adjustments became second nature, and the more I learned about the effects of the various controls, the more I appreciated the flexibility of this instrument.
During this initial testing, rather than try to learn all the possible adjustments at once, I found if I picked one or two at a time and learned how they affected the operations, learning them all didnt seem so difficult.
I guess now is the time to bring out one of the drawbacks- of such a designed instrument. First of all, unlike the average detector where adjustments are a quick and simple turn of a knob, some changes on the Spectrum do take several steps. For example to change the discrimination sensitivity, I had to go back to the main menu, select basic adjustments, and toggle down to AC sensitivity before I could make the change.
On the plus side, the wide range of optional adjustments is fantastic. For example, who ever heard of having an adjustment of the discrimination filter characteristics? Well, one of the pro options is recovery speed. This control basically adjusts the response time of the filters.
With an adjustment between I and 40, normal adjustment of the recovery speed is 20. This setting gives a nice wide response to targets and has respectable recovery time. However, I elected to try different settings and settled for an increase to 30 to make the target response time shorter. Since I was accustomed to short quick target responses, this setting met my needs without any obvious problems. Also, it made for better detection of closer targets.
Still along the same line, Whites discrimination mode can best be described as a slow to medium response system. Going too slow will cause very deep targets to be ignored, especially in highly mineralized ground such as my area.
On the other hand, unlike most motion detectors that lose depth when swept rapidly in mineralized ground, the Spectrum increases in depth capabilities with increased sweep speed. This feature allowed me to cover the ground as fast as I felt comfortable without the fear of losing depth by going too fast.
Setting up the Spectrum for the best depth capabilities and minimum false signals did take a little practice. For example, in the extremely mineralized ground where I live, when I increased the AC (discrimination) sensitivity too much, the detector would respond with a false signal with rapid up and down coil movements. Fine-tuning for maximum sensitivity and minimum problems was done by increasing the sensitivity a couple of numbers and rechecking for false signals. I settled on setting the instrument at the point where occasional falsing occurred with rapid coil motions.
Because a combination of adjustments can take a while, once I found a couple of sequences of settings that seemed to work best for me, I saved them in the two optional programs. This made it very easy to quickly retune the instrument from day to day.
Now, getting back to the basics of the Spectrum, I have to say that I was impressed with the concept of the visual display. This display could give three different indications of probable good targets. One indication is the typical target number such as 78, also, the name of the coin such as penny/dime would appear, and finally a small bar appears above the horizontal bar graph. It is this line graph that makes the Spectrum stand out. Rather than take time in this report to try to explain the graph, I would recommend that a person refer to the excellent explanation Whites Electronics provides in the advertisements.
Because most people will feel comfortable starting out with one of the factory-calibrated programs, such as the coin and jewelry mode, I practiced with it for a while. This setup made the Spectrum a mild mannered instrument with good sensitivity. The unit responded smoothly, was relatively quiet with few false signals, and was extremely accurate on target responses to most targets.
However, with just following the instructions and pushing a couple of buttons, I decided to increase the sensitivity of both the discrimination and all metal modes. Also, noting a one liner in the manual that says +95 can be a hotrock or a very deep target, I selected this number to be accepted. With just these two changes I significantly increased the sensitivity to really deep good targets.
To display the difference, with the factory settings, I was able to detect many of my favorite targets up to and including a 5 inch penny. However, the deeper 6-1/2 inch dime was ignored. After the adjustments, the dime came through loud and clear, and was detected as well with the Spectrum as any other instrument I have tested. I should mention that I did have to select the number +95 as a good target to get a reliable response, although the deep dime would normally register between 78 and 94.
Unfortunately, as I have found with all other extremely sensitive instruments, after I made the adjustments, false signals became somewhat more common. In fact, this can be a problem for a really zealous operator since Whites Electronics has done something that most manufacturers dont do, give the operator more sensitivity capability (through the adjustment of both the AC sensitivity and the preamp gain adjust) than many areas will allow.
During my first days of checkout of the Spectrum, I quickly obtained a wealth of information about the Spectrum through communications with other Spectrum owners such as J. Powell of Meade Kansas who was nice enough to send me a couple of "special programs, and John Jimerson of Nathrop Colorado, who has found an unbelievable amount of items, many of which are extremely valuable. They informed me of a network out there of serious Spectrum owners that can supply special programs which work extremely well in their areas.
One little trick I picked up while trying the different programs was something serious relic and nugget hunters could easily use. This was the mixed audio mode. This mode combines both the discrimination and the non-motion modes and gives a two-tone output. Targets that fall in the accepted range of the discrimination mode respond with a high tone, and other targets, such as trash or targets too deep to be accurately detected in the discrimination mode respond with a low tone.
The Spectrum, like all other detectors I have tried, will reject a very deep target if it cannot accurately interpret it. As a result, with the detector operating in a standard discrimination mode, a coin just out of the reach of the discrimination range will go unnoticed even at maximum sensitivity.
By using the mixed mode audio in low trashy areas, detection of many of those deeper coins out of the discrimination range is possible. The visual indications of very deep objects will vary from none to almost any possible indication. Unfortunately, all trash, including the deep junk items will respond the same, and in really trashy areas, this setup could be quite frustrating. However, on targets that do not give a reliable visual response, a person can elect to dig some of the deeper ones by making a quick check of the depth of the target.
Before discussing my testing of the Spectrum in the field, I would like to mention just some of the adjustable options available on the Spectrum. For example, an operator can: adjust the rate of the automatic ground tuning (called SAT); select tone ID where the frequency of the tone is dependent on the target; select several adjustments and setups for ground balancing including automatic, manual, offsetting, inhibiting, etc.; fully reject and accept targets through the Discrimination editing features; several different visual display features that can display common targets with numbers, names and bar graph locations; optionally transmit frequencies so similar detector interference can be minimized; high and low power cap abilities and gain adjustments that can be made by adjusting the pre-amp gain and/or individual sensitivity adjustments of the all metal and discrimination modes.
IN THE FIELD:
Field testing included several trips to local parks, ghost towns, and other isolated areas. In a one-line evaluation of the Spectrums performance, I have to say the Spectrum worked extremely well.
One of the adjustments I preferred at these sites was the use of the audio option called VCO. With this option on, the target signal would increase in tone and frequency when pinpointing in the non-motion mode. This option did take a little getting used to but it made pinpointing a target, in most cases, a quick and simple task.
Park hunting provided little surprises but did produce a handful of coins. Starting out in the factory preset coins and jewelry mode, I found the number of false signals to be minimal. Only one silver dime was recovered from a depth of about 5 inches. Shallow nickels responded correctly but the audio seemed to stutter a little at times. Most importantly, the target ID worked excellent, allowing me to sort through the trash with ease.
With this factory preset mode, I noticed that some of the good targets that responded with good reliable visual ID s properly had a raspy audio response that took a little getting used to. This was especially true of nickels and pennies/dimes. However, when I selected the coins/jewelry mode, the audio became a nice smooth solid response.
During most of the day I was able to easily read the LCD display, but during certain times, I did experience some difficulty, and had to tilt or twist the machine to read the information. Instead of constantly manipulating the detector, I went back to a program that ignored most trash and relied on the audio discrimination.
The parks I selected to hunt were somewhat less mineralized than my initial test site, and as a result, the Spectrum was much easier to adjust.
For example, I could easily adjust the AC sensitivity to near maximum without the typical false ground signals, and with the maximum setting, the Spectrum still was respectably free of falsing.
With the near maximum discrimination setting, I still didnt have that many false signals and most trash items were easily recognizable. What was fun during this part of the testing was getting a solid Quarter reading and almost every time, retrieving a Quarter.
In the parks, I also relied on the non-motion or pinpoint mode to check depth indication. Since the depth feature was very accurate, it was very easy to know how deep to probe to find the target.
The ghost towns and other remote areas did present some different conditions. For example, with the coins/ jewelry setting, I did encounter a lot of bottlecaps that responded as good targets. Also, some other small round pieces of rusty iron gave good results.
Sometimes, just changing the sweep speed over these troublesome targets would cause them to be rejected, but at other times, nothing seemed to work. However, because of my experience with a wide variety of detectors that have the same problem, I wasnt concerned. I elected to mention this fact, not to criticize the Spectrum, but, rather to inform a perspective new owner that although this detector has exceptional capabilities, it too can be fooled by some trash.
One of the sites I hunted was with a friend mentioned earlier, John Jimerson. At this site, an old Boy Scout camp, John equipped his Spectrum with a 6 inch coil and showed me how experience with a particular detector makes a big difference. While I did succeed in finding a few newer coins and what I think is a scout necktie gizmo, with the words CAMP TA-WA-KO-NI stamped in it, John, found several more coins including one of his favorites, a mercury dime.
This site, like many others near Johns home are extremely mineralized and plagued with hotrocks. As bad as the conditions were, the Spectrum did respond as well as, or better, than any other detector I have used in this area. Even with +95 accepted, I didnt get any false signals from hotrocks unless I had the coil right on top of one.
It is easy to say that the Spectrum tackles highly mineralized, hotrock plagued ground with ease, but someone doesnt have to take my word for it. All they have to do is look at Johns collection of items he has found with his Spectrum and one would wonder if there was anything left for the rest of us to find. In fact, since my trip with him, John mentioned in a conversation that he had just found a nice gold ring complete with mounted gold coin and 13 diamonds.
If a person was to select the Spectrum just for the target ID features, and only used the factory-calibrated programs, they would have a great machine. However, the true potential of the Spectrum lies in maximizing sensitivity in conjunction with the wide range of other adjustments.
With the proper combination of adjustments, the Spectrums depth capabilities increase dramatically and become one of the deepest seeking detectors on the market. Just as important, the ground balance is about as easy as it gets. Target ID and depth indications are as accurate as can be, and notching out a range of targets is reasonably quick and simple.
Simply stated, no other one detector offers the depth, the many adjustments, and the versatility of the Spectrum. I highly recommend this instrument to people who want exceptional depth plus almost complete control of the detectors operations.
For more information about the Spectrum or any other quality Whites Electronics' instruments you can call 1-800-547-6911 for the nearest dealer or write to: Whites Electronics, Inc., 1101 Pleasant Valley Road, Sweet Home, Oregon 97386. Telephone (503) 367-6121.