During these years, we at AMDTT have tested several Bulgarian company DETECH‘s products. Who doesn’t know the great SEF (Symmetric Electromagnetic Field) coils with their peculiar “butterfly” shape, or the bestselling EXCELERATOR until the most recent powerful 13″ ULTIMATE coil? In these late years DETECH also extended its production line to some VLF metal detectors, with the famous EDS, and some Pulse Indution units with the SSP 5100, 3100 and 2100.
In the occasion of our test of a V-Nulled SEF 12″x10″ (especially tuned for the White’s Spectra V3i), bought and tested by our vice-director Mauro/”Mauroki”, I had the chance to exchange some emails with DETECH’s CEO and Chief Engineer, Eng. Rumen Kanev. After the review’s publication he sent us a nice note of real appreciation and we managed to keep in touch in order to test a new model that would have been released some months later after the EDS.
Eng. Kanev’s promise was kept!
Just few weeks after the market launch of their latest model, named WINNER (or, to be more precise, EDS WINNER, as stated in the included user’s manual), with a quick email exchange we organised the whole thing and in the following days a big cartoon box arrived from Bulgaria!
I’ve opened it and I’ve found inside the detector’s box and two other white boxes. With great curiousity I’ve opened them and their content was amazing: one 6″x8″ SEF and a wonderful 12″x12″ SEF! WOW!
So I’ll be able to test the detector not only with its stock coil, a 9″x9″ SEF, but with two spare coils! (To give you a correct information, DETECH also produce a 6″ concentric coil and several other are on the way…)
I wanted to immediately install the stock coil, just to check the WINNER was working OK. In the box you could also find a universal-type battery recharger and 4 AA rechargeable batteries. Nice move DETECH!
Setting up the WINNER is very easy and the cable’s lenght is perfectly adequate to the rod. At DETECH, to stiffen the detector structure, had the wise idea of using two camlocks to increase the rod’s rigidity. The control box, a little big and somehow “spartan”, is placed over the upper rod’s bending. The WINNER also has an adjustable arm rest but, even if the slots are present, the velcro band is missing in the box. To be honest, I would have appreciate it as this simple thing allows to better distribute the unit’s weight on the forearm, leading to a long sweep movement with less fatigue. It should be also noted that the machine itself is very light and well balanced and anyone can use it for long time without excessive stress. Even mounting the bigger 12″x12″ coil the detector won’t be too much unbalanced.
While I was mounting the SEF 9″x9″ I was wondering if that coil, relatively small, would have offered good performances. As you know, most of Italian treasure hunters are quite “obsessed” by depth performance. By looking at it soo small, especially compared with other recent detector’s stock coils (mostly over 10-11″), I had some little doubt.
But I just needed to turn on the machine and play with it by passing some targets in front of the coil to start cold sweating… But wait a minute…
Looking the control box you could not miss its extreme simplicity: a sensitivity knob (that also allows you to turn on and off the unit), a discrimination know (from ALL METAL to HIGH CONDUCTIVITY), three 2-way switches, one for a high or low signal tone (TONE 1 and TONE 2), one to activate a special filter for deep hunting (DEEP) or to have a slightly better reactivity (NORMAL) and one to set a slight frequency offset (FREQ 1 and FREQ 2), useful to reduce disturbance in case of other nearby units or to try to reduce EMI noises. It also has a membrane button to activate the excellent VCO pinpoint, one of the best I had the chance to test. It’s really “surgery-precise” thanks to its ability to produce a pitch and volume variable tone in a very very very accurate way. I’ve tested so many VCO pinpoint but this is surely the best one for precision. In the rear side we find the coil’s connector, a standard 6,3 mm headphone jack and the battery cover. Note that the detector has no volume control but, to be honest, is well set so I think it’s OK: not too low and not too loud.
The WINNER is a one frequency VLF/IB (Very Low Frequency/Induction Balance) detector that works approximately at 14 kHz, to be precise it’s 13,89 kHz with the switch set on FREQ 1 and 13,74 kHz with the switch on FREQ 2. It has a completely automatic ground exclusion balance system (while its predecessor, the EDS, has both manual and automatic GEB) and it’s a SILENT SEARCH model, without any threshold tone. I personally prefer metal detectors with a threshold but it’s somehow a mere question of personal preferences as the multitude of Garrett ACE 250’s fans, just to mention one popular model, won’t agree with me.
The DETECH WINNER has only one tone to signal good targets, exactly as happens with some TESORO models, like their best selling TEJON. This feauture, in my humble opinion, has to be set on the little “minus” list. I would have preferred at least 3 tones to indicate the metal types: one low tone for iron items, one mid-sounding-tone for medium conductivity targets (see nickel coins, tin foil, very small gold items and shotgun’s bullets) and a high-pitch for noble metals like big gold objects (big rings, wedding rings), bronze, copper and silver items etc.
It’s not just a personal caprice but, as you will read later on, I’ll go into technical details.
FIRST TEST: REAL HUNTING – MOUNTAIN II WORLD WAR BATTLEFIELD
During the last AMDTT meeting, that we had in the beginning of April, in Tuscany, I had the chance to “baptise” the WINNER with a nice real hunting day. Together with me there were Mauro/”Mauroki” (with a White’s Spectra V3i), Sergio/”Xergix” (with XP DEUS 2.0) and our great friends Elio/”Elione” (XP Goldmaxx Power), Alberto/”Mac” (also with Spectra V3i) and Giovanni/”SAST” (with a Tesoro Tejon). We’ve taken our backpacks and we climbed on a mountain where there have been some violent battles during the last world war. Soil was lightly wet due to previous raining days with low mineralization and a virtual absence of EMI. The DETECH immediately shown an incredible stability even with very high sensitivity settings. False signals? Almost none and the few ones were perfectly identificable as “not-real”. Iron discrimination was superb. The only iron items I’ll dig with the WINNER are the VERY big one that deceives even top-of-line detectors. The myriad of bombs and shells splinter, especially due to the machine’s single tone, need to be dug as they almost perfectly resemble good coin signals (this happens even with high-end models). I’m sure that accumulating practice on the field, people will improve the skills to easily identify the detector’s sound nuances. Having a very few time for testing my opinion will be forcefully limited. Anyway, taking the unit in a more “clean” area would have let it express to its best. Another thing that really surprised me was its sensitivity to very small items. Sometimes they were so tiny that I was going crazy to find them with my Garrett ProPointer in the dug soil.
To compare the WINNER with the other mates’ detectors, I often followed them to check signals. Well, it doesn’t have missed one single signal , on the contrary, sometimes I was able to identify adjacent items that were missed by top-of-the-line units. This hunting session wasn’t actually very useful to check the WINNER’s depth performance as most of the findings were in the first 20 cm (approx. 8″). Anyway even the deepest findings were signalled in a very clear and solid way: as it was saying “COME ON! DIG!!! WHAT ARE WAITING FOR?”. The machine’s reactivity is outstanding and has nothing to envy to XP models. Maybe just the DEUS, with the recovery speed set to maximum, can beat the WINNER. It has to be said that XP DEUS, with Top Reactivity setting, looses a lot of depth while the DETECH dont’.
SECOND TEST: REAL HUNTING TRASH MANAGEMENT
The second test I’ve done with the WINNER was the one, tremendous, on the ability to handle very trashy soils. I went, as I used to do for this kind of test, on the local park of my small town. In this park, where detecting is tolerate, I can deeply test the detector skills to find coins and other precious items between a real trash carpet: crown bottlecaps, tin foil, cans, pulltabs, sigarette paper and every other kind of metallic trash you can imagine.
This test is not focusing on depth. About the 90-95% of the coins are usually found in the first 7-8 cm (2-3″). Main issues here are discrimination and ability to separate targets.
Discrimination of iron and tin foils was almost perfect with the WINNER. By setting the discrimination knob on “FOIL” you can forget about it. Unfortunately you can’t suppress pulltabs and bottlecaps. Even pumping the discrimination to the maximum the unit will still sound them. That’s another occasion where multiple tones should be useful.
Anyway, the detector recovery speed and the SEF target separation did and excellent job in the park allowing me to find a bunch of coins in between the trash items.
THIRD TEST: DEPTH PERFORMANCE AND IRON MASKING ON MEDIUM-LOW MINERALIZED SOIL
This is the time to GO DEEP!
I moved in a park area where is allowed to dig deep holes and I managed to test the WINNER depth performances.The soil mineralization level was medium-low and the only disturbance were coming from EMI thanks to a High Power pole nearby
I’ve checked the soil and I’ve started to dig.
I’ve dug a 33-34 cm/13.4″ (real measures!) hole then I stopped. On the other hand I’ve thought that going deeper would have been excessive and, to tell you the truth, it was getting too hard. I’ve taken a 200 Lire coin (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_lire#Republic.2C_1946-2002) and I’ve placed it on the bottom of the hole. Then I’ve covered it with the dug soil and I’ve pressed it by jumping over with all my weight (I’ve taken some videoclips of these operation that I plan to put online very soon). Then I’ve turned on the unit, set the sensitivity to 90% and started sweeping over.
BEEP … BEEP … BEEP !!! OH S**T!!! The coin was perfectly signalled!!! With the small 9”x9” coil! At 33-34 cm!!! I could’t believe to my eyes and ears! I’ve even lifted up the coil some centimetres over the soil and the WINNER kept signalling the coin!!!
Just to double check it, I dug the hole again to verify nothing else were in the soil but it was ALL OK!!!
With the empty hole I’ve noticed a peculiar issue. The WINNER can slightly signal the “voids”, meaning the soil’s cavities. I presume this is related to the automatic balance system that, with the lack of soil, deceives itself by interpreting this variation as not related to a void, but tied to a real metallic object.
Anyway I must tell you that true real targets have always a more solid and distinguishable sound from the feeble void tone. So I’ve repeated the test with the buried coin and I had the same result… Solid tone at 33-34 cm!!
Just because I’m a skeptical stubborn, I’ve decided to make another depth test, just to blow away any residual doubt
Just a meter away, I’ve dug another hole, just after checking nothing was buried in that piece of soil. This time I went deeper: 38-40 cm (15.8″)!
Even this time the WINNER slightly signalled the void as in the previous test. I’ve placed another 200 Lire coin on the bottom and I’ve covered it with the soil and being very careful to press it as much as possible.
I’ve thought: “This time it won’t signal it…”. I’ve turned the unit on, put sensitivity to 95% and I’ve started sweeping over…
This time wasn’t a “BEEP BEEP BEEP” but a sort “bip bip bit” but it was solid, repeatable and almost without any missing sweep. I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E!
I wasn’t belieaving it! I’ve never had the chance to handle such an extreme powerful machine!
Then I wanted to see more, and I’ve mounted the 12″x12″ to see what would have been happened. Well, the coin at 33-34 cm (the one in the first hole) has been signalled with a loud and supersolid “BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP” while the one at 38-40cm was a sort of solid and neat “BIP BIP BIP”! DEVASTATING!
I also lifted up the 12″x12″ from the ground for more 7-9 cm (approx 2.8″) without loosing the signal! WOW!
Before coming home due to a sudden rain storm, I was able to perform a quick test with a sort of half ultra-thin copper coin (1,5 cm x 1 cm), really really thin and ruined. I’ve buried it at 25-27 cm (approx 10.1″) and the WINNER was able to detect it in a very solid way even with the 9″x9″ stock coil. I’ve also checked its performance by placing an open 4.5 grams gold chain and this target was detected too.
The last test, before running away, was the one about “Iron Masking”. So I’ve taken a 20 EuroCents coin and placed under two pieces of rusted iron barbwire and also tested it with a big piece of tin foil. Both times the coin was correctly signalled. The only thing that changes is that the sound becomes slightly “choppy”.
FOURTH TEST: REAL HUNTING AND DEPTH TEST ON MEDIUM-HIGH MINERALIZED SOIL
Yesterday I’ve taken the WINNER on a field not so far from my home. It features a medium-high mineralization, lots of brick pieces, tons of small iron nails, barbwire fragments, tin pieces and thousands of shotgun shell’s casings. A somehow difficult field. I’ve hunted that stretch of field dozens and dozens of times with different detectors and also with different coils. I could state is a “hunted out” site and, as people who knows me can confirm, I’m a very methodic hunter, with a very precise sweeping overlap. The unit was always stable and the number of falses was low. Well, even this time I was able to detect (apart from lots of previously missed noble metal amorphous targets) a 1956 2 Lire’s coin, an ancient lead ball used on bird-catching net and one copper unidentified cap. All these in a small area that I detected at least 30 times in the past years!
After this real hunting session, I’ve moved myself to a small area were, after the usual check, I’ve dug a 27 cm (10.6″) deep hole that literally made me sweat to the bones due to soil hardness and the presence of buried rocks. I was expecting that the WINNER would have detected the void this time too but nothing. It didn’t. Probably the surrounding mineralization impacted on the balancing system letting it “close”. I’ve placed a 20 EuroCent coin on the bottom and, before filling the hole, I’ve sweeped the coil over the open hole. Nothing! No signal at all! How could it be happened?
I’ve thought that maybe the coin was too deep to be detected and I’ve added some soil underneath it. Nothing! No detection yet! A slight delusion arise… Maybe the mineralization was beating the balance system. Anyway I’ve covered the coin with the soil and I’ve pressed it by jumping over. Then I’ve said to myself: “If it did’t detect the coin without the soil… How would it be successful now?”… Well, I was dead wrong! BEEP BEEP BEEP! Here’s the signal! So solid and clean! Probably the Ground Exclusion Balance System is able to correctly compensate the high mineralization when the target is in compact soil condition.
I’ve dug the hole againg at over 27 cm and I’ve buried the coin one more time. Signal became weaker but it was still solid and repeatable. A signal that I would have surely dug in real hunt. I’ve also tested it with the 12″x12” and the sensitivity gain was amazing! What else can I say! Amazing WINNER!
FIFTH TEST: MINERALIZED BRICKS AND RECOVERY SPEED TESTS
Yesterday I’ve performed maybe the most popular of the AMDTT testa, the Mineralized Bricks’ test.
In my backyard, in a quite mineralized soil, I’ve some taken some pieces of firebricks. Their thickness is around 5 cm (2″). Before doing this test, I wanted to quickly sweep the WINNER over a hole that I’ve done for the EUROACE VS ACE 250 test. In that hole I’ve buried (at 20-21 cm – 8.3″) an old 1857 10 centesimi coin of King Vittorio Emanuele. The DETECH has obviously no problems to detect it even lifting the coil up to 10-12 cm over the ground.
I then performed the bricks’ test. I laid a 50 EuroCent coin on the ground and I’ve covered it with one, then two, then three firebricks and the WINNER had no problem detecting the coin. With the 9″x9″ it had some hesitations with 3 firebricks but with the 12″x12″ on it was easy like drinking a glass of fresh water.
The second test was made by placing the coin in the “bricks sandwich”. No problems!
I’ve also tested the unit by placing the coin on edge between two close bricks. No problem at all even covering them with a 3rd brick. Awesome!
To check the recovery speed I’ve taken some old crown bottlecaps. I used them also for the Garrett’s and C-Scope’s tests. I’ve lined them keeping a 10 cm (5″) distance between each other. Well, the WINNER is able to sound all three! Even getting them much closer they are correctly detected at a realistic sweeping pace. I also swapped the middle cap with a 50 eurocent and even this time it worked flawlessy.
I’ve checked the Iron Masking once again with very good results. To mask a coin is really needed a huge nail. And you have to remember that I was not testing the unit with the smaller 6″x8″ coil! I’m sure the result would have been much much better!
SIXTH TEST: IN AIR COMPARISON TEST WITH SEF 9”x9” AND 12”x12” COIL AND A GARRETT ACE 250 WITH STOCK COIL (6,5″x9″ CONCENTRIC)
Last test was more for fun than for anything else. As most of you know, air test are not so reliable. They can be somehow interesting to check the performance trends but are not really 100% dependable. So I’ve taken my targets’ “kit” and I’ve tried to see the maximum repeatable distances. Every target sound have produced a solid and repeatable signal in order to be validated. I wanted to check the WINNER with total stability and ZERO false signal so I kept a very conservative sensitivity set and I was on ALL METAL discrimination
Here’s a table of the two coils compared to the measures (in centimetres) from a Garrett ACE 250 with its 6,5″x9″ concentric stock coil. Isn’t that amazing?
Writing non enthusiastic conclusions on WINNER and keep balanced and unbiased it’s a very hard thing to do. People who knows me is aware that I never unbalance myself on negative or positive way when testing a detector. The main reason is tied to the fact that testing a unit in a definitive way needs more time that the one I usually have to perform those analysis.
So, I will begin from things that I liked less.. First of all, esthetics is not so good. It has to be said that Eng. Kanev himself admitted that issues in his emails and promised they will produce nicer looking unit (smaller and more modern) in the next future. Placing the loudspeaker in the upper part of the box, when rain could possibly pour, wasn’t probably the best thing to do. Discrimination, even though it’s really efficient of iron and foil, it is not a FULL type. I mean, even turning the knob to the max, it won’t be possibile to suppress high conductivity targets like, for example, copper coins. I’m aware this is a rare needing, but I would have like it.
There’s no need to state again the needing of (at least) two other tones, that would have help to perform in trashy areas in a more efficient way.
I didn’t have the chance to test the unit on beaches so I won’t state anything on that. I hope I’ll have the opportunity or I hope some other users will do the test.
I beg you pardon for not testing the 6″x8″ coil. I had two main reason: the weather was horrible and I had a very few time because of family affairs, and, in second place, my type of hunting doesn’t really need such a small coil to be efficient and productive. I hope you’ll be patient enough to give me more time to test that coil too.
What also can I add ? My real best congratulations for the excellent job that Eng. Kanev and his staff have done. In his emails he claimed he was sure that the WINNER is, at the present time, the best performing VLF detector on the market. At first I’ve thought it was just a nice marketing hype. I must admit that real facts demonstrated me that this “Bulgarian Prodigy” is not a joke at all and it will probably be a real best seller in the next months! It will be the first choice for people who seeks extreme power and does want to use them in not so trashy areas.
What about the price? Today you can buy the WINNER (here in Italy) for less than 550,00 EURO (VAT included!). Yes! No mistakes! Less than 550 EURO!
Could this be the beginning of a new revolution coming from the East?