5 Functions of a Metal Detector

The number of functions in a metal detector may vary depending on the brand and type. Basic models have fewer functions.

Advanced models have more functions and more adjustability. In this article, we will discuss the 5 functions of a metal detector and explain what each function does.

Metal detector settings can appear intimidating at first. Older analog models have knobs, dials, and buttons that can be adjusted. However, most modern models are automated and feature push-button controls.

Like any other activity, the more you practice metal detecting, the better you will become. Beginners prefer detectors because they have automatic features that don’t need complex techniques.

Expensive detectors have extra settings that are complicated and need a detailed user guide to understand.

5 Functions of a Metal Detector Explained

Typically, the number of settings on a metal detector is proportional to its price. More capabilities make a product more expensive and sophisticated.

The base model is less flexible in that specific arrangement, even if it has the same functionality as the advanced model.

One common example is the “sensitivity” setting, which is available on both base and high-end models. The basic model has four sensitivity levels, but the top model has ten for more precision.

Now, let’s explain the five functions of a metal detector:

Sensitivity Gain

A metal detector’s sensitivity is its ability to find different sizes and types of metal targets. The higher the sensitivity, the smaller the metal fragments it can detect.

Sensitivity enables the user to hear responses from target objects that are buried far below ground. It controls how far underground the coil’s signals will travel.

In the case of certain models of detectors, it is also known as “sense.” The signal gets stronger as sensitivity rises. The depth potential is decreased as sensitivity decreases.

The identification of tiny metals may be compromised by decreasing sensitivity, though. In order to maximize the output of the device without making it unreliable or noisy, metal detector sensitivity settings are essential. 


A metal detector can discriminate by filtering out certain objects and only signaling for desired ones. The detector recognizes things underground by looking at how well they conduct electricity and how much iron they have.

By discriminating, you can decide whether or not to dig a potential target. However, some objects produce target ID and response signals similar to those produced by valuable targets.

For instance, pull tabs often produce a similar signal response to gold. That’s why we recommend digging everything in the early stages, as the shovel is the most effective discriminator.

Here are some common forms of discrimination:

Iron Reject:

Ignores ferrous and junk items, preventing them from being detected by target ID, and mutes their sounds.

Variable DISC:

A knob that allows you to increase or decrease the discrimination level. Increasing the level may result in missing and muting good, small targets.

Notch Discrimination:

Enables the user to accept or reject specific metal types, so the detector only alerts you to potential targets.

Learn about What does disc means on metal detectors and how to achieve this setting for optimum performance.

Ground Balance 

The ground balance function is an advantageous feature of metal detectors. Different types of land have different amounts of minerals, like iron or rust.

Ground balance is an adjustable setting that increases the detection depth in mineralized soil. Such soil may contain salts, like wet beach sand, or small iron particles, like red earth.

Certain minerals can disrupt the detector’s signal, making it hard to find small objects underground. The ground balance option helps by filtering out ground signals, so you can hear target signals.

There are three primary ground balance types:

Manual Ground Balance: Adjust the ground balance setting manually to make the fewest ground signals audible.

Automatic Ground Balance: The detector figures out the ideal ground balance for quicker and simpler adjustments.

Tracking Ground Balance: The detector constantly adjusts the ground balance as it detects, so it’s always accurate.


Frequency, measured in kilohertz (kHz), refers to the number of vibrations per unit of time. It represents the number of electrical waves transmitted into the ground by a metal detector when searching for metal items.

The optimal frequency range for detecting coins, jewels, and artifacts with a standard metal detector is 5 kHz to 15 kHz.

To find coins, jewelry, and artifacts, the best multi-frequency metal detectors are an ideal choice.

The detector can find iron and other metals in underground pipelines, cables, and artifacts. It’s easier with lower frequencies because these metals have lower conductivity.

Higher frequencies enhance the detector’s ability to discover high-conductivity metals like gold. When searching for treasure, using headphones can help you hear the signals from your device more clearly.


a) Coin Mode

Coin mode detects coins using a high level of discrimination, as the name suggests. A detector with high discrimination can detect iron, aluminum, nails, and other small objects. However, you should be aware that this mode may cause you to miss other hidden items.

b) Jewelry Mode

Certain machines can search for jewelry and coins without filtering out worthless items. This mode is suitable for beginners who want to become familiar with the device. However, we do not recommend using it in other cases.

c) Relic Mode

Relic mode is another prominent mode that provides various discrimination readings. It alerts you when larger objects are detected while remaining silent for smaller items. If you want relics or artifacts for decoration or restoration, use this mode.


Once you know the basic settings and what they do, you can adjust your metal detector well. It may require practice, but we are confident that you will master it.

If you still have any confusion, watching reviews or tutorials may be helpful. We hope this article has provided you with a better understanding of these metal detector 5 functions.

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