Garrett AT Max Review

9.2/10
Very Good
Metal Detector
  • Country USA
  • Released 2017
  • Warranty 2 year
  • Additional
    coils
  • Headphones included

Best for

  • Coins
  • Relics
  • Beach
  • Underwater

garrett at max preview

If you are interested in a powerful, stable, and user-friendly metal detector by Garrett, you are not already a newbie detectorist but also not yet an expert, pay attention to Garrett AT Max. AT Max is packed with all the necessary functions and features that most detectorists need, and shows steady and efficient performance on various terrains, under different conditions, and with different targets. This waterproof all-purpose metal detector will become your reliable tool for many years.

Rating Explanations
All Purpose
10
Key Features
8
Easy to Use
10
Durability
9
Price
9
9.2/10
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Reviewed by
Michael Moore
Pros
  • waterproof up to 10 feet
  • Pinpoint mode included
  • additional compatible coils are available
  • all-purpose all-terrain machine
Cons
  • only 1 operating frequency
  • software cannot be updated online
  • some models seem to have software issues not obvious immediately after buying
  • expensive
  • Technology: VLF Single Frequency
  • Number of frequencies: 1
  • Frequencies: 13.6 kHz
  • Search Coil: 8.5"x11"
  • Search Coil Type: DD
  • Waterproof: Up to 10 feet (IP68)
  • Updatable Software: No
  • VDI (Target ID): Yes
  • Search Modes: 4
  • Search Mode Types: All Metal / Custom / Coins / Zero
  • Ground Balance: Automatic / Manual
  • Pinpoint Mode: Yes
  • Audio Tones: 3
  • Batteries: 4 AA batteries required
  • Length (min-max): 43"-56"
  • Weight:3.03 lb
  • Warranty: 2 years

Garrett AT Max Key Features

VLF Technology

Produces an electromagnetic field that impacts the location in a continuous sinusoidal wave.

DD Coil

The most optimal and universal shape of the search coil, fitting well for mineralized soils or water bodies.

Manual Ground Balance

Optimal combination that gives the user a wide range of maneuver to cope with mineralized soils or waters.

Wireless Headphones

Compatibility with wireless headset allows freer movement on complicated locations.

Waterproof

Up to 10 feet is quite enough for usual diving on the beach.

Frequency Shift

Metal detector shifts the frequency in order to avoid noise and chatter due to electromagnetic interference.

Metal Detector Overview

garrett at max overview

Garrett AT Max is among the most recent representatives of the AT series. The model was released by the end of 2017, and since then, AT Max has been quite in demand. This is an all-purpose all-terrain device which shares some of the best features of the whole AT lineage, but also features its unique peculiarities.

If compared to other AT lineage machines, AT Max has the lowest operating frequency of 13,6 kHz. This frequency is believed to be one of the most all-size-fits-all options for hobby metal detecting, being versatile enough and yet powerful enough to work with the majority of popular targets.

Another positive difference is that AT Max has enhanced design, featuring high quality rubber handle instead of the previous foam handle. Moreover, the metal detector is really lightweight and well-balanced. It is powered by four AA batteries, and has 2 years warranty.

Control Box

garrett at max control box

Garrett AT Max offers a backlit LCD display that provides additional information about settings and targets to the user. While some detectorists manage well with control panels without a display, and some metal detectors for deep diving do not have ones by default, we still believe LCD displays are an advantage when the technology is compatible with the metal detector use.

In Garrett AT Max, the controls include On\Off button which is also used for Search Mode choice. Next, you have Iron Audio button, Frequency shift, Audio Threshold, Sensitivity, and Iron Discrimination.

Secondary Controls & Info

All secondary options are provided after pressing the Shift button at the Control Panel. The On\Off button is used for Factory Reset. The Iron Audio button is used to switch the backlight on and off. Elimination feature is available with Frequency shift button. The Audio Threshold button is switched to setting the Manual Ground Balance. Volume adjustment is available via the Sensitivity button. Notch Discrimination can be manipulated with the help of Iron Discrimination button.

Display Information

Besides showing you the results of your tuning and settings, the display shows the following information – Search Mode indicator, Battery Level indicator, Digital Target ID, Sensitivity, Depth indicator, Z-Lynk icon, Target ID cursor, Notch Discrimination pattern, Taregt ID metal types legend, and Iron Discrimination segments from 0 to 44. As you can see, there is a lot of data to cover and analyze, so Garrett AT Max needs some bench tests and test drives in the field, starting with simpler settings.

Search Modes

All Metal

In this mode, the detectorist gets the maximum sensitivity to all types of item, plus the maximum depth possible, taking the soil type into consideration. True All Metal is a handy multifunctional mode.

Custom

A customizable combination of settings can be saved in this mode, in contrast to preset modes. The user can change this mode according to their needs and conditions.

Coins

Classic search mode for coins, since coins are among the most popular and the most frequently found items in hobby metal detecting.

Zero Discrimination

The name speaks for itself, Zero Discrimination means no metal type is filtered out, and the user has a chance to overview what is out there. Sometimes this approach brings interesting results.

Garrett AT Max Features

Garrett AT Max was created in good traditions of the Garrett brand in general and AT lineage in particular. This metal detector is all-purpose and quite versatile, and all its tech specs, functions, and features are combined in a way that provides the user with all the necessary tools for the majority of situations\locations\targets. And yet, the variability of the functions makes the metal detector flexible enough to allow the user to grow and develop their skills, using this machine for years. If you look at all the tech specs of Garrett AT Max, you will see the following outstanding features:

VDI Target ID

VDI is Visual Discrimination Indicator. The feature stands for assigning digits to the segments of Discrimination, therefore giving numbers to different types of targets, based on the signals, while the signals are based on suggested\expected chemical composition. While there is always Audio ID included, some users find it complicated to interpret audio signals only. In this case, VDI Target ID is extremely handy, and serves as a source of additional data for better analysis.

Iron Audio

In the majority of cases, ferrous and trashy targets are cancelled with the help of Discrimination feature. Discrimination silences trashy or non-valuable targets based on the electromagnetic response, and the user does not waste their time digging these targets.

However, the problem is that in some cases, ferrous and trashy items mask other, potentially valuable targets, by their electromagnetic response. If the items are located close to each other underground, if the ferrous item is more shallow, if the valuable target is smaller or located at an unusual angle, the ferrous item easily masks the response of the valuable target, and even high Recovery Speed may fail. Some ferrous items even cause ghost signals and create an impression that there is a valuable item down there.

Additional Iron Audio feature allows the user to hear the signal for iron targets, which are normally silenced, and evaluate the situation from a more informed position. Ferrous objects, whether they mask other items or pretend to be valuable, will give low-tone signals, and the user will never mistake it for a signal from a proper target.

Garrett AT Max Search Coils

garrett at max coils

What size coil comes with Garrett AT Max? The search coil which is included into the Garrett AT Max kit by default is the 8.5×11 inches Submersible DD PROformance™ elliptic coil. Its moderate size makes it handy for different locations, while its shape makes the coil easy to manipulate. DD configuration shows itself efficient for various targets, and provides steady performance on soils with different levels of mineralization. Moreover, this best coil for Garrett AT Max is water-resistant, enabling the treasure hunter to search on wet sand and dirt, in shallow water, and even on the depth of up to 10 feet.

One of the best news about Garrett AT Max is that there are several more compatible Garrett AT Max coils (by Garrett alone, while there are other smaller companies that also make compatible search coils). The search coils you can add to make the machine even more versatile include tiny 4.5 inches Super Sniper Searchcoil for narrow places and extremely trashy locations; medium 5×8 inches PROformance™ DD Submersible Searchcoil; 6.5×9 inches PROformance™ concentric Searchcoil; new 6×11 inches DD Viper Searchcoil; and big 9×12 inches PROformance™ Concentric Searchcoil.

Since Garrett AT Max is fit for most terrains, and works well with most types of targets, adding one or more of these coils to your equipment will only enhance and upgrade the metal detector, giving you more powerful performance wherever you search.

Garrett AT Max Settings

Garrett AT Max settings may seem a bit complicated, especially for beginner detectorists, but this machine was not actually created for complete newbies, so the learning curve is a bit more steep. Please make sure you check out all the controls and settings in the manual before you even purchase the metal detector. Below are a few short recommendations about the best settings for Garrett AT Max.

When you switch the device on, choose the Search mode before you tune everything else. The default mode which is activated automatically after switching the detector on is Coins. After you choose the Search mode which will define most of your settings automatically, you can adjust some of them for enhanced efficiency, for example, Sensitivity level, Threshold, Discrimination segments, or Volume.

If you face noise and electromagnetic interference, your metal detector probably reacts to the high-voltage transmission lines nearby, other metal detecting devices, or other potential sources of electromagnetic field. To avoid the interference, switch on the Frequency shift. Press the Freq button to check out frequency options, and choose from F1 to F4 shift channels.

To tune the level of Sensitivity, you can opt for one of the eight levels. If you expect small or very deep targets, you may want higher sensitivity. If you treasure hunt on trashy locations, highly mineralized soils, or there are other metal detectorists around you on the same location, you may want to decrease the sensitivity level to avoid noise. Decreasing the sensitivity level should be used only if Frequency shift, Discrimination, and Ground Balance do not help to solve the problem.

Garrett AT Max VDI Chart

VDI Target ID visually supports the audio signals given by the metal detector for different types of targets. By looking at the Target ID Legend, the user can analyze the signals better, and decide whether the item is worth digging. To give a more comprehensive picture of how the VDI works, we provide the following Garrett AT Max VDI chart (for coins).

Garrett AT Max Problems

One of the things we know about Garrett AT Max for ure is that the manufacturer does not issue online updates for the software. It means that all outdated codes and bugs, if any, cannot be fixed by simply connecting the metal detector to the PC, downloading and installing a newer version of the software, and upgrading the metal detector without leaving your home. Well, okay, what’s the deal, some detectorists say, there are still many metal detectors on the market that do not have this updatable software feature.

What we are mostly not told is that Garrett AT Max lineage shows a very unpleasant systematic breakage. If you check out the popular metal detecting forums, you will find out that sometimes, AT Max machines start giving crazy sounds and noise as soon as they are switched on, without the user even doing anything, and without any sources of electromagnetic field around.

For some users, this happens after months and months of using the metal detector on a regular basis, other buyers are unlucky enough to face this issue after one or two months. The typical feature is that troubleshooting recommendations do not work, checking the wires and stuff does not work, and even changing the search coil does not work. Users have to send the metal detector back and wait for a new one, if their machines are still eligible for the warranty replacement. Updatable software could have solved this issue, but we are unlikely to see any fixes for this.

And eventually, according to feedback from some Amazon buyers, AT Max burns through the batteries really fast, obviously because it only has four of them. So, get yourself some spare batteries when you are to go out in the field.

Tips & Tricks for Garrett AT Max Users

garrett at max user

Considering the abundance of functions, features, and settings available with Garrett AT Max, some users may benefit from specific recommendations and tips on tuning the metal detector. While true mastery comes with time and effort, and even for full theoretical knowledge, the owner of Garrett AT Max should read the full manual more than once, we still recommend you to pay attention to the following tricks.

To use Iron Audio effectively, switch it off in highly littered locations or locations with high concentration of iron, either in the form of natural deposits (mineralization) or in the firm of items. Iron Audio will give too much noise in such places; better switch it on only to double-check specific targets and patches of land.

Garrett AT Max is not specifically created for saltwater usage, but it can be used in highly mineralized waters to search on riverbeds or seabeds, so you are not limited to wet dirt or sand. However, as any Very Low Frequency Continuous Wave metal detector, AT Max will encounter certain complications in such an environment.

The most important setting to pay attention to when searching in saltwater is Ground Balance. For saltwater beaches, normal indications come between zero and 22. If the signal bounces, you can try reducing the Sensitivity until you get a stable signal. Also, please keep in mind that in shallow waters or along the water edge, when the search coil is in and out of the water, the signal will be rather unstable regardless of your settings.

Garrett AT Max Accessories

In addition to the search coils discussed above, there are a bunch of other accessories available for Garrett AT Max. With these accessories, this versatile machine can become even more flexible and powerful.

Firstly, you can check out some search coil covers to protect your coils from accidental damage. There are open and closed covers.

Secondly, the basic kit actually includes the Garrett MS3 Z-Lynk wireless headphones, but you can check out additional transmitters and cases and stuff for the headphones. Or, you may want to get wired headphones for land use.

And eventually, if you have plans for underwater detecting that includes some diving, you will definitely need a submersible headset by Garrett. There is one Garrett submersible headset compatible with most underwater metal detectors by this manufacturer, but you can also research for compatible headphones by other companies.

Garrett AT Max Kit

garrett at max kit

The default package for Garrett AT Max metal detectors includes:

If this list does not look that impressive, please keep in mind that most retailers and websites offer their own kits and bundles with additional accessories free of charge or with discounts. So, if you want more than this list, just double-check what accessories can be included into your kit.

Garrett AT Max Manual

We strongly recommend reading the metal detector manuals for each machine you consider buying, before actually buying. Even experienced treasure hunters may experience issues with some settings if they lack theoretical knowledge. If you ask yourself how to set up a Garrett AT Max metal detector, or how to change battery on AT Max Garrett, you can find detailed manuals here to make a fully informed choice about buying or not buying the metal detector.

Download Garrett AT Max User’s Manual

FAQ

What are typical audio signals for different targets?

Depending on the Search mode you choose, the metal detector will give you slightly different audio tones for targets. However, regardless of the Search modes, the tones can be characterized as low, medium, and high.

For low-tone targets, the Digital ID will be less 35, and the typical items it marks are iron, steel, nails, etc. Medium-tone targets with digital ID from about 35 to about 50 usually mark non-ferrous items with low to medium level of conductivity; these are often coins, small jewelry, think items, or foil. Higher-tone targets with ID over 50 usually mark high-conductivity non-ferrous metals, and items like bigger coins and jewelry.

How Do I interpret soil mineralization based on the Ground Balance indicator?

As a rule, higher Ground Balance ranges mean highly ferrous soils, black sands, and hot rocks. The digital range is between 99 and 80. The range between 80 and 60 marks a moderate level of mineralization, and usually indicates red and brown clay, or iron-bearing minerals. Ground Balance range between 60 and 20 usually marks an iron object right beneath the search coil. If you face Ground Balance range from 20 to zero, these are usually non-ferrous minerals and highly conductive environments, like saltwater.

What is DD wiggle?

DD wiggle is one of the techniques to pinpoint the expected buried target more accurately, without actually using the Pinpoint mode. If you suggest a target beneath, you can locate its left-to-right and front-to-back exact position by moving the search coil in fast narrow swings. Move the search coil quickly but steadily in small wiggles about 2-4 inches wide. Start by holding the search coil right above the expected target, and then start moving the search coil sideways while wiggling it. When the metal detector starts giving you a steady symmetric beat, you know you have reached the edge of the target. By repeating it to the other side, you will know exactly where to dig for the target.

Conclusion

Hopefully upon reading this detailed Garrett AT Max reviews you can decide whether you want the Garrett AT Max metal detector for your hobby or not, and whether this detector will meet your needs. Garrett AT Pro Max is a handy device equipped with all the necessary functions and features, but without additional fluff. Most likely, you will consider it a sturdy, reliable, efficient workhorse that will serve you for years.

9.2/10

Garrett AT Max 🎖️ The best for coins and relic hunting

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Author

Michael Moore

Hi detectorists! I’m Michael Moore, founder of this website, and a dedicated treasure hunter since 2013. If you want to be posted about the most recent news and updates in metal detecting, releases, and trends, subscribe!

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