Minelab CTX 3030 Overview
When experienced detectorists who has already been in the hobby for years and have more than one machine hear about Minelab CTX 3030 they usually roll their eyes and shake their heads showing their sincere admiration for this masterpiece. CTX 3030 is the state of the art instrument created for supreme success in detecting and treasure hunting. Its main disadvantages are weight and price, but except for these two aspects, this tool seems to be impeccable.
The funny thing behind it is that even Minelab itself have not created a better instrument yet; they update this model and the updates are in demand, but CTX 3030 remains the leader on the market for many years. Absolutely every aspect of it exceeds the indications of other products in the niche. So it is fair to state that for the money you pay here, you get absolutely everything needed for success.
Design, Appearance and Usability
The CTX 3030 machine looks very stylish and professional. The main colors are black and grey, plus the Minelab logo; the finish is matte. We have to mention that the coil and the whole tool are actually pretty heavy; the total weight is 5,2 lbs. However, the main benefit is the balance. The manufacturers have done a favour to their customers by placing the control box high on the shaft.
Control box is not portable and acts as a counterbalance to the coil, therefore neutralizing the disadvantage of the weight. The machine takes time to get used to the grasp and the balance, but it is totally possible to handle it with comfort.
In addition, despite its comparatively large weight, the machine does not look bulky due to sleek design. It is not that hard to hold it, and the balance allows to make free movements with it.
The armrest is also of excellent quality; it is convenient, holds the arm tightly, and does not crack if you make a wrong movement. It can be adjusted for further comfort. The display of the tool is full color LCD, large and bright. You will be able to see the indications both in the bright broad daylight and in twilight as well. However, be ready that it takes some time to learn interpret the data and indications. As soon as you manage, you’ll enjoy the detailed info provided.
The shaft of the instrument is adjustable, you can change the length depending on your height. The minimum length is 37 inches, the maximum is 55,3 inches. It is easy to fold and unfold, and when unfolded, the tool does not totter in places where its parts meet. So it won’t fall in parts if you occasionally drop it down.
One of the benefits of the design is inbuilt lithium-ion battery that recharges pretty fast, promises up to 11 hours of operation (this is in condition when all the features like GSP are in performance; if not, it takes longer), and can then be replaced with AA batteries if needed (or you will save money if not).
No wires is the next truly outstanding design solution of his machine. Firstly, of course, the headphones and the loudspeaker – both options are wireless, so the user can put the machine down without being caught in the net of wires. The risk of damaging the equipment by catching the wire occasionally is also eliminated. However, the coil is also wireless! Now, there is no risk of tiring the wire off by the tree branch. The level of noise due to the wire touching the high grass is also decreased – the issue is not there anymore.
While the metal detector itself is waterproof, its standard headset does not function in water, so pay attention to this aspect. For efficient underwater search, check out additional accessories.
As you can see, already in terms of design this instrument is one step ahead of other products in the niche. Some unique solutions made by the manufacturers make it extremely user-friendly.
The control unit with display is mounted close to the upper end of the shaft counterbalancing the coil. The panel has 11 buttons; depending on the search regime, the display shows different screens. The status bar indicates what functions are activated currently. The device is easily controlled via a set of quick menus and customizable modes. The control box is not portable. While there is a bunch of different settings and adjustments, everything functions smoothly; the principles of tuning the machine are rather intuitive. As soon as the user develops their skills enough to correlate conditions to settings, tuning is super simple.
LCD display on this item is large and bright enough to keep the data visible even in full daylight and under bright sun. Minelab were the first manufacturer to provide a big coloured display, so you need neither eyeglasses nor sunglasses to see what the display shows. Pay attention that the display unit is not portable; on the contrary, it is located high on the shaft with the purpose of acting as a counterbalance to the coil.
The display does not have a default screen – in fact, it shows different screens that correspond to different modes of search. It does not only show data, but allows to edit some indications. The newbies may find that the amount of data shown is a bit overwhelming, but it will turn out extremely useful. In other words, the display in this model is totally awesome, informative, and convenient to use.
In any metal detector, a wire is the weak point, because it can be easily torn off with a tree branch, or damaged if the machine falls. In this instrument by Minelab, you are secured from such risks, because the coil transmits the signals to the display via wireless technology. This is groundbreaking and no other device on the market offers this. The speaker and the headset for the item are also wireless, so you are totally wire-free, which adds to the convenience. Just do not forget that this technology is not suitable for underwater search.
The traditional headset for Minelab CTX 3030 is made by KOSS, another giant in its own industry. Together, they provide excellent user experience.
GPS-and Google Maps
In the majority of cases, the detectorists bring their portable GPS with them to the search session and drag them back and forth, because they have no other choice. With this model by Minelab, there is a solution – the model has built-in GPS, allowing to see all the route and indications directly on the screen of the LCD display. The user can also mark the locations he is interested in, and come back to places he believes may be promising. Moreover, the GPS can be synchronized with the PC or laptop, meaning you can even make maps of the locations and come back later (like when the weather is better).
Google Maps serve the same goal – to save and check the routes, to comb promising places, and to avoid the empty locations.
The device is equipped with 10 search modes. Five of them are pre-set automatically and the user can switch them on and off. These five include: Relics, Coins, Silver, Beach mode, and High Trash for littered locations. Each regime has its own screen showed by the display when the user chooses the regime for seeking. The other five regimes are custom, meaning that the user can tune the device according to specific conditions, make the tuning meet all particular needs, and save the settings in case he plans to come back to the same location.
CTX 3030 offers the widest range of features one is able to find in a metal detecting tool. The best thing about it, however, that these features are not useless (as we can often notice in many expensive models stuffed with fancy useless tuning), and moreover, the features are combined and complement each other. This results in extreme sensitivity to objects of all kinds and sizes.
Despite the fact this model was presented to the market back in 2012, it still remains among the bestest items, and up to date, no other title was able to match it. Even the Minelab brand itself has not managed to beat it and come up with anything even more groundbreaking since 2012. While the technologies continue to develop, there is still no such innovation that could considerably enhance CTX 3030.
One of the most amazing features about this instrument is that is offers the user a whole bunch of frequencies, from 1,5 kHz to 100 kHz, for scanning the location simultaneously. Having 28 frequencies at once, the instrument literally combs the ground, so no valuable target has a chance to escape. Currently, there is no other device in the niche that could offer the same feature – most of them are single frequency, or multifrequency but the number is much smaller. As a result, even if CTX 3030 had no other features at all, 28 frequencies already make it incommensurable to similar products in the niche.
This is an all-purpose instrument that works evenly well on different soils and various weather conditions. It is also decently waterproof; it is possible to use it on the depth of 9 feet, and spend considerable time in water without being worried about the electronics. However, it is not suitable for diving deeper, so avoid deeper places hunting with it.
Smartfind 2D Discrimination
In terms of discrimination, this is one of the superior tools in the niche. The Smartfind 2D Discrimination technology enables it to do several things at the same time: analyze the conductivity of the targets and the percent of iron in them, indicate size, indicate depth, and tell ferrous from non-ferrous objects. The additional features of Target Trace and Target Separation help the tool to see valuable object next to worthless, even if the second one is bigger or closer to the surface of the ground. All other instruments would show the bigger and heavier object while smaller and more precious one would give only weak signals.
Since the device is extremely flexible and variable in terms of search modes and additional tuning, the ground balance tuning is available in automatic and manual regimes. Manual tuning is suitable when the soil is comparatively homogeneous, and the user can assess its qualities adequately. Automatic regime is handy for mixed and mineralized soils, to allow the tool to recognize noise and filter it, providing smooth search. Together with 10 search modes, five pre-set including discrimination index, and five customizable by the user, ground balance adds a lot to success of search.
Noise Cancel Mode
The of metal detecting machines get totally disoriented when they enter a location with powerful electric field, for example, under the electricity transmission line. However, CTX 3030 continues its operation due to powerful Noise Cancel mode. This function filters all noises and prevents them from interfering with the actual signals from your targets.
Fe-Co Discrimination is one of the key technologies packed in this tool. It discriminates worthless targets the best way possible. The axis of conductivity classification includes indications from 1 to 50; the scale is large enough to support excellent sensitivity. The axis of ferrous indications includes points from 1 to 35, thus classifying such objects like nails very well.
GPS and Google Maps are the other two key technologies to take advantage of. With these being inbuilt, the user is enabled to trace and save the routes, mark empty or promising places, and analyze the data on their computer.
It is hard to separate “main features” and “other features” when speaking of this product, since all functions seem to add more to the excellent user experience. It is more fair to speak of bigger and smaller features; bigger include things like 28 frequencies, waterproof, wireless technology, or GPS included. Smaller include a bunch of cool stuff that just makes your life as a detectorist better, for example, adequate balance, several languages available for use, two recovery options, etc. The main idea behind the tool is the approach of its developers – they made sure the device is outstanding even in small details.
CTX 3030 is very heavy if compared to other products; its weight is 5,2 lbs, and this is honestly a lot. Such weight is understandable considering the features and technologies packed inside, but it definitely decreases the user’s convenience. It is easy to get exhausted carrying such item for the whole day, especially in one hand.
However, the developers of this model have found a logical solution for the problem – sound and well-crafted balance of the shaft. The coil is pretty heavy, but the engineers have placed the control box high on the shaft, so it acts as a counterbalance, easing the effort of the user.
It is a well-known fact that Minelab CTX 3030 is not for beginner detectorists, mainly because of its settings; the settings are very complicated. Only having some experience and skills in this hobby, one will be able to manage the settings right. However, it is possible to cope with the tuning using search modes. The manufacturer offers five pre-set search regimes: for coins, relics, silver hunting, seashore search, and for littered grounds. The other five modes can be customized by the user. As long as the detectorists sorts out the tuning issue, searching will become extremely fruitful.
CTX 3030 uses a lithium battery for power, or eight batteries of AA type. The lithium battery promises 11 hours of uninterrupted operation when fully charged, and with all possible functions turned on while searching. If you turn off the GPS on tool, the battery life increases. An additional powerbox that is included into the kit can be used with eight AA batteries. So, the item offers versatility even in the power supply methods. It makes sense to get the lithium battery fully charged to use all functions to the maximum, and then replace it with AA batteries if necessary.
Considering that CTX 3030 is one of the top tools on the market and has almost no competitors in the world matching it in terms of accuracy and functions (and price lol (sob), little surprise that it is shipped to other countries, worldwide. This is basically the reason why the instructions both in the guide and on the display come not less than in 10 languages. These include English, German, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish, Russian, and Chinese (because Chinese metal detectors are crap). So even if you are not a native English speaker, there is high chance you will still make head or tail of out this machine.
Performance in the Field
The advantages of CTX 3030 are seen since the very first minute of using it for search. It is well-balanced and sits well in hand. The absence of wires makes movement more free; you can put it down without damaging the wires. Wireless headphones are excellent.
The 28 frequencies applied at the same time make the search unexpectedly fruitful; the depth of reach and the level of accuracy allow to find small objects like coins; discrimination filters the worthless targets, and switching the search modes gives more flexibility. With this tool, the chances are high you will spot the majority of targets other people missed in the already combed places.
Pros and Cons
As any other product in the niche, this one has its cons, although it is hard to imagine what are they. So, these are the main disadvantages of the CTX 3030:
- price. It costs differently depending on the platform to buy it from, depending on the country where the customer lives and depending on the shipping. However, the price is still very high; of course the one who purchases this device knows what the money is given for. And yet, for the majority of detectorists, unless they earn big money selling their finds, this sum is too much.
- weight. The weight is adequate considering the amount of fancy stuff packaged into it, but compared to other products, for example XP Deus which is super cool and still super lightweight, CTX 3030 is heavy.
- although it is waterproof, you cannot dive with it.
- complicated settings. It is not easy to start working with this device, but it is stated as an expert level tool. So one needs considerable experience and skills to give it a try.
- field testing showed that CTX 3030 works worse with objects located in shallow grounds; of course you will still be able to identify the target, but deeper-laying objects are spotted better.
And then the pros:
- 28 frequencies;
- multifrequency operation;
- additional coils can be used;
- several variations of the kit;
- KOSS headset;
- inbuilt GPS
- variable power supply (either lithium battery, or AA batteries);
- multilingual display;
- full colour big LCD display.
Obviously the number of advantages outweights the disadvantages.
CTX 3030 is sold with the standard coil for the model, 11” Smart coil. However, the user can replace it with items of other sizes to customize the device better for certain conditions. The bigger one is 17 inch coil; it works best on large locations since its depth of reach is 20% deeper than the standard coil provides, and the range is generally more powerful. A smaller coil is 6 inches, very useful for combing the highly littered grounds. If one buys such an expensive detecting machine, it makes sense to purchase additional coils as well, since they give full range of functions and enable the user to get maximum out of his equipment on different locations.
There are three standard packages for this model. The package number 1 includes:
- metal detector plus accessories
- carbon fiber lower rod for coil change
- hand digger
- large bag
- shell pouch
- XChange 2 CD
- KOSS headphones
The package number 2 includes:
- metal detector plus accessories
- carbon fiber lower rod
- handle shovel
- hand digger
- large carry bag
- shell pouch
- XChange 2 CD
- KOSS headphones
- The package number 3 includes:
- metal detector plus accessories
- break down travel scoop
- hand digger
- knee high scoop
- large carry bag
- shell pouch
- XChange 2 CD
- The standard for the meal detector include, regardless of the package:
- charging cable
- auto charger
- alkaline battery holder
- belt clip
- wireless module
- removable headphone module
- USB cable
- coil cover
- AC wall adapter
- Li-ion rechargeable battery
- arm rest strap
- coil hardware
- battery charging station
- instruction manual
- warranty (three years)
- warranty card
As you can see, the kit is very impressive, and even just a standard kit without any additional fancy stuff actually includes a lot of cool stuff already. The machine is totally worth the money.
Minelab CTX 3030 vs Minelab Equinox 800
Minelab has another excellent instrument for detecting – Minelab Equinox 800. It also has a number of cool features, for example, it offers five the most effective frequencies – 5, 10, 15, 20, 40 kHz plus multifrequency – and yet this cannot be compared to 28 frequencies. Also, it is definitely more convenient to comb the place with several frequencies at the same time, instead of switching them back and forth.
The number of search regimes is also smaller, only four for Equinox 800. But it has a special mode for gold search, while the CTX 3030 has silver search regime. On the other hand, Equinox is much, much lighter in terms of weight, only 2,9 lbs which is a huge advantage for many seekers. The machine is powered by lithium-ion battery, and there is no variation with power supply.
The Equinox 800 is also wireless, which adds to user experience and satisfaction. There is no possibility to use bigger or smaller coil, though, limiting the user on certain locations. In addition, the kit offered with Equinox is much, much, much smaller. But the price is lower, too! It must be said that for the majority of customers, Equinox 800 is more affordable. However, in terms of features and functionality, CTX 3030 cannot be beaten.
Minelab CTX 3030 is currently the superior device in the niche of professional metal detectors. Some products by the same manufacturer, like Minelab Equinox 800, and models by other developers like XP Deus can be compared to it in certain aspects, but none is able to provide the same combination of qualities and functions presented in CTX 3030. Of course, it has own disadvantages, but only two: comparatively high weight of the tool, and certainly the price. However, the amount of features, settings, and accessories in each variation of the kit make it stand out from the crowd.
Amazing technical specifications, the variability of settings and flexibility of customization give the user almost unlimited possibilities for all types of hunting. Generally the only limitation is deep diving (but come on, we cannot demand to have it all in one machine). In all other terms, this is the superior instrument that is likely to bring cool finds even on the already combed places where other detectorists failed to spot anything else. CTX 3030 is next to none both in quality and the number of finds it gets.
Minelab CTX 3030 Manuals
To get a better idea on operating aspects and additional nuances, take advantage of the manual for Minelab CTX 3030 provided for your convenience.
CTX 3030 Instruction Manual EN (1.75 MB)
XChange 2 User Manual EN (2.51 MB)
XChange 2 Application (PC Only). Version 1.8.7-1.3.5 Released 2018 October CTX 3030 upgrade instructions EN (693.07 KB)
CTX 3030 Getting Started Guide (4.16 MB)
CTX 3030 Brochure EN US (12P letter) (6.48 MB)
KBA 21 CTX 3030 Audio Options (959.00 KB)