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The first uk minelab sovereign gt field test
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Minelab sovereign GT field test
Sovereign GT US straight stem

The Minelab GT is the latest version of the Sovereign, with one or two added features.
I would first like to thank John from the US for loaning me his machine while over here on a detecting vacation.
Needless to say the model tested is the US version with the straight stem, Europe will still have the standard "s" type configuration which can make the machine a little heavy.

The control box
Sovereign GT control box
The new Sovereign GT has some great new features including
 The facility to lower the Iron mask allowing better target seperation
A lockable all metal ground track feature
  A separate switch allowing the operator to use silent of threshold search.

The remaining controls are the same as the previous Sovereign, including the 10" Tornado search coil, 2 band noise cancel and notch filter.
 The Sovereign GT operates at around 14Khz.
Sovereign GT handgrip
I like the balance of the straight stem, the small hand grip rod can be moved to any position along the stem to suit. We found there were not enough holes in the stem which locate the lower section, with the stem set at its shortest position it was still to long for us short asses, an extra hole needed to be drilled to accommodate the pin in the shorter position.

The instruction manual is written in plain English, it explains the theory behind Iron mask and how best to operate the machine in various soil conditions, I was a little disappointed to read the trac/fixed ground balance worked in all metal only, and also to hear that no box cover or alkaline kit is supplied with the new machines, only a re-charge kit and coil cover.

In the field
 Iron infested Roman site
The first test was on my junky Roman site where the Tejon and Gold Maxx have so far been unbeatable, I was reluctant to even take the Sovereign out as it makes no claims to have a lightning fast recovery speed which is required for this carpet of nails we call a site, on the other hand it would be good to see how it performed with the Iron mask features.
The field had been ploughed and left to settle over several  months, recent frost had broken it down sufficiently enough to search, conditions can not be described as perfect, our feet sank as we walked indicating the soil was not compact enough to gain any depth.

 I turned the Sovereign on with iron mask active and set the sensitivity to half way with a slight threshold, instantly I could hear the machine nulling over the Iron, in fact it was a constant null indicating the sensitivity was to high I backed it off to the2 o'clock position...still nulling, the machine finally settled down just above the zero. At this point Mark called me over to check a signal he located, the Sovereign gave an occasional blup when the coil passed over the area. Mark dug the target to reveal a tiny and I mean tiny buckle, I tried the target in air and the GT only picked it up at around 1 inch with the sensitivity set in the low position, as the sensitivity was increased the Sovereign became more responsive and a much better depth was achieved.

 I walked away thinking to myself  "why didn't I try that signal with the Iron mask off before we dug it". I continued searching, unconvinced what the manual had suggested about turning the sensitivity down until a smooth threshold could be obtained, this left the machine totally lifeless I could see Mark busy investigating signals, where as I was just walking marching up and down swinging a machine desperate to make things happen.
 We met back at the van for a quick chat and a drink, Mark had found less than what I expected, all his scratching and digging was to reveal hot rocks and mis-shaped Iron, good targets were 2 buttons some lead and the tiny buckle, I had 2 large pieces of lead.

After lunch I tried experimenting with the Sovereign, for starters the sensitivity needed to be raised if I stood any chance of finding something below the surface, I set it back to my original halfway position and turned the threshold switch to silent search so the background nulling couldn't distract me. The machine was much stable with the occasional blip just to let me know it was switched on, then a low blip, more of a blurp, I passed the coil over again and worked the signal in very short sweeps (known as the Sovereign wiggle) with every pass the signal became more solid as the target locked but still sounded a little abrupt, I flicked the switch over to Iron mask off (disc on position), the signal was much cleaner, a scrape of the surface with my foot revealed a small Roman coin about 2 inches deep, when  the area was checked in "all metal" I found a large nail deeper down in the hole which proved the machine was giving me the correct information, a  repeatable  chopped signal indicating there was ferrous and non ferrous together.

I continued searching with this set up, having the Iron mask off made the machine more blippy, some of these blips were actually signals that just needed to be worked with the "wiggle". The Sovereign gave a very poor response to small pieces of lead, I have no idea why the small same sized Roman coin gave a more solid sound. Large targets at depth have never been a problem with the Sovereign and the GT is no exception, it sings at the top of it's voice, no actually it screams, large targets near the surface can be easily pin pointed using the pin point switch which now shrinks the target audio.
At the end of the day the Sovereign performed better than I expected finding 4 small Roman coins, 4 buttons and several other pieces of lead  I must add not ONE piece of Iron or hot rock.
In the field
Pasture
Now this was Sovereign territory, big coil, big spade, pin point probe, stinking cold with a dripping nose perfect weather.
We attended the weekend wanderers Easter dig Prestwood, just up the road from me, it was at the site where 2 Roman hoards had recently been found, also the very same fields me and dad had permission to search years ago but never once visited...typical
The fields were almost baron, I managed to find a nice crotal bell at 11" deep the Sovereign gave a faint broken signal so did Barry's Gold Maxx both machines were on the edge of maximum detection, the only other find was a fob seal which again was a deep repeatable signal.
Finds made with the Sovereign
Pasture finds including a microscopic washer demonstrating how sensitive the new Sovereign GT is.

 By lunchtime we'd had enough and agreed to go back to our Roman site for another bash, as we arrived the farmer was just jumping out of his tractor, with a big grin he gave us the thumbs up and pointed to the field, it was rolled and seeded...about time.
 Now the field had been freshly disturbed the iron signals were worse than ever, the Sovereign could not cope with a manual sensitivity, already fed up  I turned it into the "auto" section and decided to take my chances, Barry was using his Gold Maxx which has always worked great on this site even he was having problems identifying the Iron. The first fifteen minutes were very quiet with hardly any signals I could hear the threshold blanking over the Iron, then I got my first positive signal it was a small Roman grot, after that point things just got better, It was almost like the machine needed time to warm up, my confidence grew with every target, the machine was so settled I was just strolling up and down at a steady pace without a care in the world, positive signals just tagged the coil as it passed over them, no more slow dolly steps with the new Sovereign, just get on with it and let the machine do the work. I never thought I would say it but auto sensitivity has its place, my finds for the afternoon mounted to 8 Roman a slither of a long cross hammered a thimble, 4 Georgian and a large pocket full of non ferrous rubbish. Barry had 2 Roman 1 thimble, a Roman nail cleaner and a small bronze Roman duck.

My best finds
2 outings my best finds with the Sovereign GT
Non ferrous targets
Other non ferrous targets recovered


 We swapped machines for a short while I wanted to hear Barry's thoughts.
 Excellent, the target sounds are very addictive, built like a tank a real boot and braces machine, fantastic package all round, do we really have to give it back!!

Barry with the Sovereign GT
Sovereign GTBarry with the Minelab Sovereign
Summary

I really enjoyed using the new Minelab Sovereign GT I would choose it any day over the Explorer
The GT is slightly different to previous models, without a doubt more sensitive, the iron mask on/off  feature allows this machine to be more tractable amongst Iron, I felt the machine had a faster recovery speed. Other changes may be slight but as a complete package the Sovereign GT is and always will be a great workhorse. The build quality is excellent and robust, I especially like the control box mounting bracket a lot of thought has gone into this, also the straight shaft is far superior to the  "s" type.
Yes the Sovereign GT is a very good package, it will suit everyone from newcomers to experts. Inland or beach, this machine will give you years of enjoyment. I like the Sovereign GT in fact I have given John his money back plus more to secure this particular machine for myself.
Grumbles
 I would like to see the sales brochure explaining  the features in a little more honest detail for example: The lockable ground trac feature will only work in all metal, which is very mis leading, searching in discrimination has fixed auto trac like other Sovereign models. Reading the brochure I was led to believe the Iron mask could be switched off, assuming the operator will then have a full control aver the discrimination from all metal upwards. This is not the case, with  Iron mask on or off  the machine will still reject most Iron automatically at zero discrimination, this can not be lowered by the operator to say reject very small nails only.
If Mr Minelab is reading this my only wish would be a Sovereign with an adjustable Iron mask and let the operator decide how much Iron to ignore. Oh and a concentric coil would be nice.
Tips From other Minelab users
Run your Sovereign with the volume fully up and then adjust your OADS headphones to a comfortable audio level.
Soil conditions change you may need to set your machine differently, even if searching the same field on a different day.
Don't expect great depths if soil conditions will not allow, use auto sensitivity as a last resort and trust the machine.
Using silent search and turning the threshold up to a slight humm appears to make the machine a little more sensitive.
When ground conditions allow you can turn the sensitivity higher and hunt in silent search, your Sovereign may be a little unstable but investigate the solid signals.
Unless you are a novice always run with the Iron mask off, this is the position which says "disc on".
When turning your machine on keep the coil at waist height for 10 seconds before searching.
Always make sure no soil is trapped between the coil and cover, this can cause false tracking.
Don't bother purchasing the meter for UK hunting


I am not a Minelab dealer so I can not offer you a competitive price on your new Minelab Sovereign GT, you may wish to contact Detecnicks and mention the field test you read at Garys detecting.co.uk.
 

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