While this Minelab Eureka Gold review is based on the old XT18000, it is a refined, improved and a high-techer detector. It has two outstanding features, which were not previously combined in any other gold detector – automatic ground balancing ability and three search frequencies much better discriminator especially at depth, and automatic two speed ground balancing, the ergonomics have been improved and the rechargeable battery system is much more convenient, however keep in mind Minelab’s GP series have far surpassed this machine for professional use
This creates ease of use and saves you from having to manually tune the detector to the constantly changing ground-mineral content. With other manual machines you need to do this from time-to-time as you move about, and with some of them almost constantly. Even then, the detector will not be perfectly balanced all the time, which means loss of depth. However, the XT series ground balances nearly perfectly all the time, as the machine automatically adjusts to changing conditions. The operator can totally concentrate on listening for signals without the distraction of thinking about ground balancing. That is a really big plus.
In the past, the serious electronic prospector needed to use at least two detectors. One was for locating small nuggets within 6 inches (15 cm) of the surface. The second detector specialized in finding bigger nuggets at depth. Previously, no detector could do both jobs well. The Eureka Gold’s predecessor, the Minelab XT18000 performed well, doing the job of two detectors at the flick of a switch. It really is two detectors in one. The 6.5 kHz modes excelled at locating nuggets of bean size or larger. The 32 kHz modes excelled at locating from bean size down to smaller than match-head size.
The Eureka Gold has THREE search frequencies: The 6.5 kHz is suitable for the deeper larger nuggets. The 20Khz mode is a general-purpose setting. This is the mode that the majority of operators would use most of the time. The incredibly high 60Khz mode is for the tiny nuggets that had previously been too small for the Eureka Gold to locate. The advantage of this mode is that it will give sharper signals on match-head size or even smaller nuggets. In tiny- nugget areas you should be able to find many more pieces using this mode. However, because of the extra sensitivity of this mode the detector does become noisier, and also does not penetrate as well on larger nuggets. So you would not use the 60Khz mode as an all-purpose setting.
Compared to the Minelab XT18000, the overall appearance of the Eureka Gold is more modern and up-market, but its appeal is more than just skin deep. I have already mentioned the advantage of the third frequency. Because the signal tone of the Eureka Gold is chirpier and more energetic (very different to the XT18000), it is easier to recognize a signal in hot ground. Volume output in the Eureka Gold is not high however, and weak little earphones provided would be totally inadequate. Purchasing powerful earphones is essential for this detector.
The Eureka Gold is more stable in highly mineralised ground than previous Minelab VLF detectors and all experienced users would appreciate this quietness as a very important feature.
The discriminator is of a type similar to the XT18000, but provides marginally better performance. However, it is still only an iron discriminator that works on small iron pieces near the surface. I long for the day when a thoroughbred gold detector will have a full-depth ability to recognise all non-gold metals in highly mineralised ground. But as yet no manufacturer has been able to design one. Coin detector discriminators go close but do not work well on the goldfield’s mineralised soils.
The Eureka Gold has a 10” elliptical coil as standard equipment, which is preferable to the previous round 8” coil. It is lighter, can cover more ground per sweep, and can be poked into difficult-to-access places. The extra 5cm gained per sweep may not seem like much but it soon adds up, especially in the open country.
It was good to see that the Eureka Gold has an improved rechargeable battery pack, which clips into place neatly and easily. Minelab include a magazine clip that will accept eight AA alkaline batteries for emergency back-up use.
In summary, As far as this Eureka Gold review is concerned this machine is the best all-round VLF detector available for use in the gold fields from the US to Australia and everyplace in between. It is versatile and refined and very easy to use!