What is a Simultaneous Multi-Frequency Metal Detector?


With the introduction of the Nokta Makro Legend in late 2021, the term “simultaneous multi-frequency metal detector” (or SMF) was seen a lot in social media, videos, blog posts, forums, groups, clubs, and pages. SMF promises a whole new level of performance. So what exactly is a Simultaneous Multi-Frequency Metal Detector?

A simultaneous multi-frequency metal detector is one that outputs more than one frequency at a time from the coil. The theory is that any target missed at a single specific frequency may be detected by a second or third frequency. This improves the chances of you finding the target.

Why a manufacturer would go to the expense and trouble to design and incorporate multi-frequency capability into a metal detector is interesting. They really have to believe the technology offers that much more to the detectorist and that they can produce it at a price point that will provide a good return on investment (ROI).

The SMF technology is not new and has been incorporated in a few manufacturer models in recent years. In some circles, they get rave reviews and apparently provide a good ROI. What’s interesting is that Nokta Makro is taking the plunge as well and their Legend offering appears to be catching a lot of attention; it’s not only an SMF, but it hosts a bucketload of features at a price point that makes it very intriguing.

Benefit of Simultaneous Multi-Frequency over Single-Frequency

Usually, when we read about the popular and commonly used VLF (Very Low Frequency) detector, the specs reveal that a single frequency is being emitted from the coil. This technology has been finding targets for decades but only at a single frequency, generally between 3 kHz and 30 kHz. Target alerting depends on the frequency being well matched to the conductivity of the target metal.

The benefit of a simultaneous multi-frequency detector is that as you sweep the ground surface, there’s more than one frequency doing the work for you. It finds targets, theoretically and practically better.

There have been multi-frequency detectors in the past, but the operator had to decide and select the frequency to use. The SMF frequency emissions are simultaneous and don’t require manual selection of other single frequencies and a re-sweep of the same spot. The efficient use of manual frequency selection also relies on you knowing the type of targets you’re looking for so you can choose the correct single frequency. Not so when they’re all firing at once.

The benefit of simultaneous multi-frequency operation is that you get all the frequencies at once sweeping all the different target types. This greatly increases your chance of success.

simultaneous multifrequency
Different targets respond better to different frequencies

Note there’s one extra capability for the operator – for SMF detectors (and there are only a few brands in that arena) you can still select any single frequency to use if you need to operate that way.


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How Much Do Simultaneous Multi-Frequncy Metal Detectors Cost?

To achieve simultaneous multi-frequency capability, you need a lot of signal processing power. This means more powerful hardware, more engineering and design work, and more testing. All these factors drive the end cost of the unit.

The new Nokta Makro Legend is early in its product lifecycle and priced between $750 – $900 US dollars.

Prior to the Legend, the MineLab Equinox and Vanquish models were introduced with the capability to simultaneously employ all or some of these 5 frequencies simultaneously (model dependent): 5kHz, 10kHz, 15kHz, 20kHz as well as 40kHz. They sell for between $210 and $950 and use the proprietary term “Multi-IQ technology.”

Garrett’s Ace APEX Multi-Flex multi-frequency detector is another one of this relatively new breed.

There is certainly a variance in technical features and functions in that range of prices, but you can be sure that the most expensive models offer the most bang for the buck. Looking at the high-end models for each manufacturer you can then compare features to find what works best for you. I’ve listed some informational videos below for you.

How do Simultaneous Multi-Frequencies Help You Metal Detect?

  • Multi frequencies provide maximum sensitivity across all type of targets (even target size), and also reduce the impact of ground noise.
  • Since the low frequencies respond more to highly conductive targets like large silver items and the high frequencies resond more to lower conductivity targets like small nuggets (gold), having the machine fire across the range of frequencies at one time allows it to “see” practically everything.
  • Single frequncy machines can’t effectively separate ground signals from target signals in mineralized soil. Simultaneous multi-frequency machines do a much better job at minimizing the accuracy of target ID.
  • Target ID is also enhanced by the SMF algorithms which supposedly can cross-check information gathered from each individual frequency to provide more accurate target identification. 

Simultaneous Multi-frequency Metal Detector Product Links

Here are useful links to manufacturer videos to give you a better sense of the SMF capabilities that they offer:

Nokta Makro Legend

Garrett Ace APEX

MineLab

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What's the Difference Between Metal Detector Coils?

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