Minelab Explorer SE metal detector review and field test
Minelab explorer se picture
I have started to write this review without even seeing the new Minelab Explorer SE, my thoughts are based simply on what I have read and whispers within metal detecting circles.
For some reason I have a really good feeling about this machine, lets just hope it is worth waiting for.
Who cares what it's called Explorer 3 or X terra 90, the fact is Minelab are the only company constantly offering us new products on a regular basis, and for that fact alone I must raise my hat to them.
new minelab explorer special edition screen
Some have said it is more like the Sovereign to use...well great I love the Sovereign, it would be nice to have an honest signal.
 It has a faster processor...perhaps this will give the Explorer a faster recovery speed, if so then it may be possible to use this machine on Roman sites.
new minelab slimline coil

Now I have the machine it's time to see if the speculations are true
First of all I conducted 3 simple tests to determine if the Explorer SE has the performance I need, if so I would expect it to match or better the machines which I already own and use.
Have Minelab made the ultimate metal detector !!
Will the Explorer SE be the one to have ?
Compared against my current machines
Using the stock coil

Test 1
 Locate a coin next to Iron with a clean audio response = No
Test 2
Locate a small Roman coin through my test tub of badly mineralised soil = YES
Test 3
Locate a deep coin with a Precise audio response on my test bed = YES
Score 2/3
I would not expect the Explorer se to have more depth than earlier models as the coil size is still the same, Minelab and other manufacturers simply can not change the laws of physics.

minelab explorer se control box

 Quick notes

 It gave me a chuckle when the words "serious detecting" appeared on the start up screen "good luck" or "please remember to fill your holes in" would have been a nice touch.
 One new function that interested me was the audio, no longer audio 1, audio 2 audio 3, it has been replaced with long , smooth and pitch hold. The "normal" setting is still on the menu.
"Pitch hold"
This feature gives a lovely short target response, and holds that exact pitch within the threshold until the next target is located, a simlar principle to the Sovereign but it's not the same, pitch hold very sounds good when bench testing but a little over active when searching in nail reject, I found the constant threshold change a little tiring. Perhaps this feature will be more like the Sovereign when searching cleaner sites or beaches using no discrimination.
"Smooth audio"
The smooth audio enhances the signal size making it much broader, small targets easier to identify. I never felt happy using the longer audio settings on the earlier Explorers, trying to pin point drove me mad and was very time consuming, the new VCO pin point is very fast and reliable.
Day 1
 I managed to get a quick hours search Friday night on a local field which has been freshly rolled, the Explorer SE was very easy to operate still retaining most of the original Explorer characteristics.I very quickly found 2 Roman minims and half of a grot. The SE was very sensitive to small pointing with the new VCO is a breath of fresh air.
As with the Quattro I found using conductive audio worked well if you are looking to find small targets, the low grumble on small coins easily stood out from the other tones.
Settings : Smooth audio, fast on, disc nail reject, sensitivity set at 14 man, conductive.

So moans, I am really happy with the new Minelab Explorer SE.
Day 2
Wanderers dig at Crondall

This was a hard day and a real test of patience, searching in the baking sun, the soil was dry and really hard to dig. I only managed to find 1 Roman grot and some buttons, it was nice to meet up with Tony Hunt and Michiel Bil from Holland, both experts on the Explorers they gave me some helpful advice. I chatted with Michiel while Tony took my machine and spent some time setting it up making it much easier on the ears...Cheers Tony.
Some nice finds came up but sadly it was not the day for me and my new machine, although the Roman grot came up from the hot spot where everyone had trampled most of the day . I found the site to be quite badly Iron contaminated
 Settings : normal audio, iron mask all metal, sensitivity of set at 14 manual, ferrous.
Day 3
Local pasture field
Just down the road is a pasture field where I tested the Quattro last year, it stood out from other fields because I could turn the power full up without even a false signal. The Explorer SE was no different I managed a stable 28 manual and all metal in Iron mask. The Explorer was so settled I could use the "smooth" audio feature allowing me to snag some very tiny deep signals, small buttons came up from well over 8" and large lead 10"-12". The meter jumped around on the deep targets, I found a quick and easy way to confirm was to use pin point, it then locks the cross hairs on the probable target, this tip is very good when trying to identify deep Iron.
Settings : Smooth audio, Deep on, iron mask all metal, sensitivity set at 28 man, ferrous.

Notes so Far
I am finding the Explorer SE enjoyable to use, as like all other machines it performs well when the search head can get close to the soil especially pasture and smooth plough. The only field the Explorer lacked performance on so far was fresh stubble, possibly the air gap between the search head and soil affected the circuitry.
As with earlier Explorers they will have their good days and bad days depending on site conditions, so far I am very happy with it's overall performance and features, what I am not happy about is the weight, since using the Explorer I have upset an old arm injury, so I am on the pain killers again. I dont think this injury will settle down if I continue using heavy machines, so I will pass this reveiw on to Jerry who is a dedicated Minelab user and has had some great finds with his Explorer's.

Readers opinion

Hi Gary Nice to see you the other day,,, you asked me for my thoughts on the SE.

Please use it as you wish

Well I have been an Explorer user from day one first the XS then the MKII ands here we are with the Special Edition.
First of all it feels good to hold with the grip improvement using a soft but thicker sleeve.
I must admit that I prefer it being black but that just cosmetic but pleasing to my eye.
It is a pleasure to swing which may be due to the slightly lighter but different slimline coil design where the bottom shaft is attached to the coil bracket area.
It is much easier to set up programme choice than the previous model and very user friendly.
That being the case it is possible to keep things simple which suits many folks.
Pin pointing is much improved and fun to use in fact my uniprobe which cost a lot of bucks had a bit of a holiday on this outing.
I personally like to detect with normal sounds but I did like the Pitch Hold response which changed the tone of the threshold which was pleasing on the ear.
I have yet to see exactly how much longer the battery will last between charges but if its only 2 hours that's an improvement on the past.
On the minus side its still a heavy detector but if that the price that I have to pay so be it.
The screen is easier to read which to many folk with sight problems has go to be a big help.
It may well be a bit deeper but I will need more time to be absolutely sure as the previous models were one of the deepest machines around.
Perhaps it was the programmes that I used or the fields that I was detecting but I had it running without all the bells and whistles that we have been used to.
The coil that is fitted gives the appearance of been lighter which it is and also looks a little streamlined compared with the previous style.
There are some numerical changes to Iron mask, sensitivity,and threshold but the are changed in much the same way as on the MKII.
I have tried to keep this as I have found it from a amateur  detectorist point of view.
We all have our personal likes and dislikes but Minelab have listened to our gripes and endeavoured to make a number improvements to keep us happy.
I think that they are on to a winner with this SE apart from the weight factor.
Whatever detector you guys use may your finds be plentiful.




Important note regarding field tests
Reports and reviews no matter what the product will be the opinion of the individual's involved.
Metal detectors can operate differently all over the country because soil conditions are different, some machines work better around iron contamination, others will work better on pasture. You will find no beach tests on this site.
US coinage is different to UK coinage therefore if you live in the US it may be wise to look for a US review on your particular machine.
If you don't agree with our field tests you are more than welcome to send in your own reviews I will be glad to publish them.
Finally be vary wary of internet forums, some are friendly...others have hidden agendas used for personal attacks on individuals also remember some are there to promote sales of a perticular brand.
 People can be very brave when hidden behind false forum names some are indeed decent men.................. what happens between brain and keyboard is anyone’s guess!"

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