The GPX6000 has been out for some time now and has been finding lots of gold out there for many users. I was very privileged to be one of the field testers for Minelab during the development phase, which is part of the reason why I waited so long to finalise this article – I just needed to clear out the memory bank and focus on my findings and experience with the production model. Also, when I started to write this review, I was getting asked a lot of questions from users and also prospective customers, so I thought that would be a good platform to present, as many others may have the same questions. So, let’s get stuck in with a good old fashion Q&A session.
Q: Does a higher sensitivity number on the 6000 mean it will pick up pieces deeper and smaller, or does the lower the number like say 2 or 3 go deeper and on smaller pieces of gold?
A: In the manual adjustment range, higher numbers mean more sensitivity, but also more noise generated from both ground and EMI. Personally, I have always liked my threshold to be on the smoother side, so I usually run it on 2 or 3. There isn’t a huge performance difference between minimum and maximum sensitivity, I just prefer a more stable threshold, because if I’m continually listening to an erratic threshold, my concentration starts to suffer, and I probably begin to ignore certain signals, which isn’t good. When the threshold is more stable, I investigate every faint repeatable murmur, which leads to deeper finds. But in saying that, if the detector is running nice and stable, then I will increase my sensitivity.
Q: How well does the “no threshold” mode work? Have you checked faint targets in this mode?
A: I have never been a fan of no threshold anything, except on a coin detector. But I know some people hate the hum, so Minelab were wise to put in that option. It works just fine, but you lose out on the deeper signals. Where you are getting that barely audible but repeatable “something” in the threshold; switch to no threshold mode, and 95% of the time you’d keep walking. If you want maximum performance, then my recommendations are manual sensitivity, or Auto+ with threshold on.
Q: How good is the GPX 6000 as a patch hunting detector?
A: On very small gold, the 6000 produces a very clear signal. You can also sweep the 6000 a little faster than both the GPZ and SDC before it loses sensitivity. Those two facts alone make it a very good patch hunter in my book. If you wanted to cover a lot of ground per sweep, you could use an earlier GPX with a 17” elliptical coil or larger, and then use the 6000 as the patch cleaner. The 6000’s own 17×13” accessory coil is excellent for more coverage and still retains excellent sensitivity, just being a bigger coil is does generate more ground response, particularly over mineralised clays and high salt content soils.
Q: Does the GPX 6000 have a software update facility? I can’t see any ports.
A: Yes, the gpx6000 does have a software update capability should the need arise. There is a single screw holding the speaker grill in place; it is clipped in at the top. Remove the screw, and the speaker panel can be removed, where you will see a small rubber grommet. Under this is the USB port.
Q: Nenad, have you compared the 6000 to the GPZ?
A: Yes, not extensive tests on hundreds of different nuggets (I’d much rather just go prospecting), but have done enough to know where each unit’s strengths are. There’s no doubt in my mind, on sub gram gold, the 6000 is very very good. If you add a little texture and unusual shape to the gold, then the advantage of the 6000 is more noticeable. But when it comes to larger targets the comparison between the two gets a little more complicated and depends not only on target size, but also target orientation and depth, mineralisation, and settings (mainly on the GPZ).
I found a rough textured 5.4g nugget with the GPZ and 12″ Z-search coil, and later did a quick test with the 6000 and there was hardly any difference between the two machines, the 6000 maybe giving a slightly more defined signal response, quite likely due to the monoloop coil. However, when testing on a more solid 5 grammer, the 7000 showed its true colours, particularly in General.
One thing that clearly does stand out though is the GPZ in Normal Ground Type setting gives a greater boost in depth compared to the 6000 in Normal. And Zed starts to win more as target sizes increase. So, the bigger the gold, and the milder the soils, the greater the advantage of the GPZ. But bear in mind this is all in comparison to the GPX 11” coil.
In simple terms, on most targets under a gram the 6000 will do as good if not slightly better than the GPZ, particularly when the GPZ needs to be used in Difficult Ground Mode.
Q: Can you use the SteelPhase sP01 Audio Enhancer on the 6000?
A: You sure can. You’ll just need to change the sP01 audio cable to a 3.5mm socket on one end and that will plug straight into the 6000’s headphone socket. Or the more reliable option is to remain with the ¼” (6.35mm) plugs as supplied with the sP01, and you can purchase the Equinox Audio Adaptor cable, which is also compatible with the 6000. That’ll convert to a 1/4″ female socket.
The SteelPhase enhancer gives the 6000’s audio a little more clarity, and provides greater control over the volume/threshold level, as the threshold level is tied into the volume control on the 6000.
Q: Why would I choose the 6000 over the 5000 when the 5000 has many more features?
A: As good as the 5000 is, it has been around for a long time, and the gold that it could find has mostly been mopped up. Yes, with a good prospector and a good selection of aftermarket coils it can still find gold, but if it’s mainly for working known areas, then you must consider the hundreds of detectors that have swept the ground previously. The 6000 is using new technology, which means finding gold that other machines will struggle on. The 6000 is also very light and well balanced and comes with wireless headphones, and collapses down to a very small size.
Q: How does the performance of the 6000 Compare to other top end Minelab machines?
The GPX6000 is kind of the missing link between the SDC2300 and GPZ7000 but lighter than both of them. Its depth can exceed the SDC and GPX5000 and can also give the GPZ a run for its money on targets under a gram. On prickly/reefy type gold the 6000 is far superior to the 5000. One time during field testing I found 5 nuggets in a small patch. When testing those pieces, the 5000 wouldn’t even respond. I could only just get a response when virtually rubbing them on the surface of a 12×8″ Evolution coil, but these were pieces that I found at several inches with the 6000.
Both the 5000 and 4500 can go deeper than the 6000 on larger chunky gold (using bigger coils and suitable timings), but how much of that type of gold is still left behind? In any given year I can probably count on one hand how many solid nuggety bits I find, the rest is all weird, odd ball shapes, flat thin pieces, or often iron encrusted specimens – all of which the 6000 detects very well!
Q: Does activating the threshold in Auto1 impact the sensitivity or any other setting as the wife and I are threshold detectorists from way back?
That’s a good question. No, having the threshold On or Off in Auto doesn’t impact the actual internal Sensitivity, Auto does its thing regardless. But, having the threshold ON gets your ears closer to the action, so in a sense it does make it a little more sensitive to targets.
Q: Okay, no machine is perfect. Are there any negatives to the 6000?
The 6000 is deadly with its 11″ mono coil, but being so sensitive and powerful does have a couple of drawbacks. 1. It doesn’t quite handle very mineralised soils as good as the SDC2300 does, and it will ping the odd hot rock that both the 2300 and GPZ will ignore. 2. Using a much broader frequency band, it is more prone to EMI, so frequent Noise Cancels may be required on certain days. Luckily the auto noise cancel only takes about 4 seconds.
That said, if you want to quieten things down, this is where the supplied 14″ DD comes in. It will handle mineralised soils very well, including high salt content soils, and it also cancels out bad EMI extremely well whilst remaining very sensitive to small targets.
Another potential negative is that the Audio tone is pre-set. It is a pleasant mid-tone, which should suit most users, but people with high frequency hearing loss could find the tone a little high. I would recommend listening to the machine in action before purchasing.
Q: Nenad, if you could only have one gold detector in your arsenal, would it be a 6000?
If I could only have one gold detector, it would be the GPZ7000. The range of options on the GPZ, as well as its ability to find tiny gold and bigger deeper pieces at the same time is truly impressive.
However, if I was allowed to have two units, then it would be a GPX4500/5000 and a GPX6000. I think that would give me the ultimate versatility.
Q: What basic add-ons do you recommend for the 6000?
Definitely a good plastic scoop – it makes target recovery so much easier, especially on the tiny pieces the 6000 can detect. A quality padded control box cover is self-explanatory, and a second battery pack is good insurance. For the 11” coil, I also like the optional Nugget Finder skid plate. It has less flex and features a chamfered bottom edge, which glides along the ground nicely.
Okay, that’s all for now, but stay tuned for a future article where I’ll delve a little deeper into performance notes and tips.