Minelab E-TRACPrice: $1500
Based on 68 reviews
Avg. Durability: 3.50
Avg. Ease of use: 3.20
Minelab Etrac review....
The Etrac can be as easy or as difficult as you want it to be. With the settings I use, I've turned it into a turn on and go machine which is fast, deep and easy to understand with only two tones. I've never known a machine to ID iron as good....and at depth also. With some minor tweaks, the machine can be run very quickly and be able to pick out the smallest of targets amongst iron.
At the time of writing this, there is not a machine out there which I'd rather own.
Okay....it's a bit heavy but I now have a very simple harness which has transformed my time out. It's weightless and requires minimal effort.
Best machine out there!!!
Gaz. from Bristol, England, UK.
Rick from Collinsville Illinois
Troy Davis from Hendersonville, TN
No other machine can come even close to this. Well done Minelab!!
Paul from N.Yorks UK
When asked for an honest review by a fellow Ohioan...
The E-Trac does well at old sites and Ohio (aka midwest) soil. If you're going to do mostly beach hunting or go Civil War relic hunting in Georgia, I might suggest another machine. If you are a tot-lot clad hunter, I would definitely suggest another machine. If you are gold ring freak, always after the gold, I would also suggest another machine. If you want old coins, there is no match for the E-Trac.
It is a little heavy, but no heavier than the Fisher CZs I swung for years. Screen glare is a pain. I put a Zagg screen protector on it, which is great and prevents scratches, but does nothing to help with the glare problem. Wearing polarized sunglasses will help.
There is a learning curve, as you would have with any machine, but it is much easier to use and master than the Explorer. You HAVE to take the time to learn it and understand it. If you're not committed to that, don't buy it.
I use stock coil and stock coin program and the results are phenomenal... No need for special tweaks and adjustments or additional coils to make it work right. If you're digging 6" targets now, get a good digger. You will be digging 8" targets regularly and even some deeper.
If you are a meter watcher, you will still have good results, but as time passes you will probably become more of a listener. The sounds are key with this machine.
The one accessory I could not live without is the inline SunRay probe. Since it needs a modified shaft, I recommend purchasing it when you buy the machine so it is already installed and you don't have to mess with sending the shaft in to have the hardware installed. Some people have had issues with quality of the SunRay probe wires, but I have not and I have owned five SunRay probes on various machines, all are still going strong. I also take care to keep the wires un-kinked and not yank on them.
I think the secondary market for the E-Trac also speaks for it. There are few used machines available, and those that do sell are usually very near new price. If you get it and don't like it, you'll have very little difficulty recouping the majority of your investment.
Grey Ghost headphones. They are the best I've found for the Explorer or E-Trac. Durable and worth the money, they really allow you to hear the sounds you need to hear. (You wouldn't buy a $1500 stereo and listen to it through $30 speakers, would you?)
The foam handgrip on mine was crap, it kept sliding down. Really annoying. I got a replacement grip for free from Minelab, put some tennis racquet grip on and then slid the foam grip over the top. Perfect.
Andy Sabish's book on the E-Trac is also excellent. If you read it and understand all the settings, it makes everything the machine is telling you make a lot more sense. The user manual is pretty useless. You need the book.
Oh, the coil cover does not fully cover the bottom of the coil. That is definitely a defect in design, but probably not as issue for any but folks like me who scrub the ground and detect a lot.
Another weak point is the plastic arm cuff. Most people know I tend to be pretty gentle with my equipment (but I do use it a lot!), but I just recently had the plastic armcuff crack. Fortunately I was able to swap with the one off my Explorer, but still a potential problem area and one other Explorer and E-Trac users have commented on.
As far as defects or improvements, there was a post on a forum asking folks what they would like to see in the "next" E-Trac and really, there was nothing outstanding that people stated as a flaw that needed corrected, most were "dream on" kind on comments... Like integrated GPS or heated handgrips which would only drive up the cost exponentially and not improve base performance.
Nick's recommended E-Trac "package" Yeah, it does add up, but you won't need to buy anything else.
Grey Ghost headphones
Zagg screen protector
Tennis racquet grip for under the foam grip.
Nick A from Central Ohio, USA
I have been detecting since 1976 and have used compass and whites detectors. All I can find with this etrac is surface coins and trash. I wish that I would never have wasted the money on this machine.
John from Iowa
but to get the most out of it you do have to take the time to master it.
If you are willing to take the time to learn it, you will love it, and should be able to find things other detectors have missed.
But learning it is vital, it will not do all the work for you, it gives you lots of information, but you need to take the time to learn what the machine is telling you to get the most out of it.
I think this really is the best detector in the world, but you must put some time into it to get the most out if it. I suspect some who have given it a bad review, may be those that have not taken the time to fully learn the machine.
Reading the Andy Sabisch book on the explorer/etrac is vital in my view.
It is easy to get started with, but to really see why this is such a great machine, you have to take the time to master it.
You will probably reach a point where everything "clicks" its like a lightbulb going on when you figure the machine out fully and realize what it is capable of.
Detector from UK
Power and Simplicity
I use this machine alongside my DFX, and have found that the DFX is now collecting dust as this has become my primary machine for all my coin hunting needs.
A quick explanation is necessary to get a feel for the comparisons I will make in this review, specifically to White's users thinking about purchasing a Minelab. Firsts, I feel that the E-Trac is superior to the DFX in the same respect that it is superior to the V3, not by the raw depth which it achieves, but more of how it interprets and responds to signals in the ground, the operator inputs in regard to settings, and the legibility of what the machine is telling you. The E-trac is more of a behind the scenes detector as opposed to a fully customizable detector such as the White's E-Series and Spectra series detectors, in other words, think of the Minelab being akin to operating a Mac or Windows versus a White's operating in DOS.
The e-trac constantly makes adjustments in a way which are out of the operators control, yet optimize search conditions to the ground being detected, Whites top of the line machines can reach the same potential through user programmed data. In summary, when used side by side, you simply don't have to worry about making adjustments on the Minelab while achieving excellent results, results which take time to set up on other machines. This is difficult to put into writing, but it makes sense when you use the machines side by side.
Depth: The deepest machine I've operated, while retaining good target and tone ID. It looses a bit of depth in bad soil, but losses are minimal. It will pick over places other have missed, as it has produced in sites I've previously gone over with other machines in the past.
Discrimination: Outstanding. The machine will not false unless the target is borderline on the smartfind discrimination pattern. IE, if it's blocked out, it will null with no other spurious sounds. An incredibly quiet machine. From the perspective of a brand new user who has never held a metal detector this is what one would imagine a "discriminator" ought to do.
Iron Rejection: Good, and while there are tricks to finding iron, it will get fooled on nails now and again. By the nature of the way it uses discriminates via ferrous reading and conductivity it will produce a nice silver tone on some iron targets. I think the V3 and DFX are a tad bit better at allowing the user to determine whether its iron or not via the signagraph display. Still, when it does discriminate it out... It nulls and that's that.
The DD coil: makes for a great separator and good coverage though it pinpoints like a DD... Sometimes it's an inch or two off the mark. The build quality of the coil is excellent although the spoked design can get badly caught in tall grass or if you are hunting woods, will get stuck on small twigs etc. A small gripe, but very annoying. The coil cover which comes with it accumulates a lot of dirt and debris as do most other coil covers.
Battery Life: is adequate. About 8 hours on a full charge with no back light. Quite a bit longer on alkalines. If you are heading out for a long hunt, have an extra battery pack.
Buttons: Good quality and good feel although the verdict is still out on their durability.
Screen and Backlight: The screen is excellent and legible although the backlight is a bit dim during the "still light enough to see hours" where it doesn't do much good.
Menus and operation: Good, but it takes a bit of getting used to what gets saved and what doesn't under some of the user modes and discrimination patterns. Once you do get them saved, recalling is very easy and does not require much effort.
Quickmask and Smartfind: When I purchased this machine I assumed I would simply only look at the digital numerical readouts, in reality I now only look at the smartfind grid. It's easy to get used to and very accurate. The quickmask screen is pretty ingenous, you can load a secondary rudimentary discrimination pattern or simply go all metal and simply toggle between each by the simple push of a button. An excellent tool for sniffing out iron targets or targets which fall right on the edge of the discrimination pattern.
Auto-Sensitivity: All in all this is more of a user preference thing. I have found that that machine is at optimal setting at autosens +3. It is on the edge of stability, this can be confirmed by going to manual and cranking it up, the machine becomes very unstable. My dislike of this feature it that the E-trac will sometimes ratchet down the sens to a very low setting without alerting you, meaning you can miss deep targets if you aren't keeping an eye on it.
Depth Meter: Bad. It's simply inaccurate on anything beyond the size of a penny. The easiest way to find depth is in the pinpoint mode, by listening to the target, though it will get you in the ballpark. From experience the White's meter is superior.
Pinpointing: Good to excellent with a DD, though it takes some getting used to. The coil needs to be detuned by pressing the pinpoint button over the target to get an accurate pinpoint. Again, here I like the trigger system White's detectors use. It's simply more convenient, and I assume easier to fix if the mechanism finally wears out.
Build Quality: Not bad, though not as good as my White's detectors. The coil and shaft are quite good. The standard arm cuff is bad, the strap that it comes with is so bad I don't want to think about it. I'm still not sold on the rubber battery cover either. I feel like I'm going to loose it at any second. Overall the machine has stood up to abuse well so far.
The Tone ID: I hate tone ID, but Minelab did it right on this machine. It's consistent and really the only way to use the e-trac. A totally different experience from the quasi-tone-id on other machines.
Customer Support: Haven't used it yet, and somehow I don't think it would be the same trouble free experience I've had from either Garrett or White's. I can't make a judgement here though since I've not used it.
Overall my experience and results have been excellent. I have made comparisons to White's by virtue of many years of experience with White's machines. To be sure, for depth both are virtually identical, although you need minimal experience on the Minelab to get its full potential. This is not true of either the V3 or DFX.
Here is what I would like to see on this machine which isn't available. Non-motion all metal mode and modulation.
Overall I would recommend this machine to both the veteran hunter and the complete nOOb. It has virtually no learning curve, it's almost at maximum potential right out of the box and it works as one would assume a metal detector should. Quiet, deep and easy to use.
Artur C. from Duluth MN
Detecting in new Zealand
After watching countless videos, and reading tons of reviews I came too the minelab e-trac. Some keen too hunt with this detector I didn't read the manual, me and my buddy shot to a really old park that we had pounded, he has a minelab excalibur, and I got a hiding most days as he is a wizard at digging deep silver, right off the mark the etrac hit on to a solid beep, found a silver.
Not only was I looking for old silver and copper coins but mostly depth, one tough thing to grasp was the co-fe reading as I had not enough experience to have an idea on what I was digging.
We have found a narrow track between some trees that Mike had found some truly fantastic coins, and we thought it was all hunted out....
well the first beep was faint and only one way but as we dug about 14-19 inches which is standard hunting for good coins in this park, up came a tiny silver coin, English and over a hundred yrs old.
Unreal, I ended up with four more hundred -plus coins out of that tiny area, I hunted a few days later in a old reserve with Mike, and for the first time since I have been detecting bet him in old silver coins, on was a 130yrs old, thanks for the dream coming true Minelab.
Silver Slayer from Invercargill, New Zealand
JohnApthorp from Dubbo, NSW, Aust