Chris's Metal Detecting Page
Review: Teknetics Omega 8000
There are a lot of metal detector choices out there today, and picking the "right one" can be really confusing. Best depth? Most features? There are a lot of questions.
I've tried a lot of different detectors over the years. The quest has always been to find "the best all-around metal detector".
You can divide that into a bunch of sub-categories, such as "best all-around detector for under $300" or whatever, but I wanted to apply it to the whole picture.
If everyone had the budget, sure, it would come down to the Minelab E-TRAC, Teknetics T2, Fisher F75, and a couple other top-of-line detectors. In real life, though, I'd ask "What's the most versatile one for the money, across the whole board?" There, it makes a lot of sense to be looking at mid-priced detectors. Something between, say, $450 and $700 has enough power and features to stay interesting for a long time, but it's still a realistic option for many enthusiasts.
The Teknetics Omega 8000 lists for $729 but sells for as low as $599 new (available here), so it's firmly in the mid-priced range where we're looking.
Now, before we decide whether the Omega 8000 is even a contender in our hypothetical contest, let's check out its features. (Going into this, you should also know that Dave Johnson was lead engineer on the Omega. Dave has been designing hobby metal detectors since '81 and brought us many famous detectors, including the Lobo Supertraq, DFX, CZ-5, and 1266-X).
Let's get the two primary drawbacks out of the way.
First, the build quality. The issue I see is the attachment point where the control box / LCD sits on top of the handgrip. It flexes a bit, which may lead you to think "flimsy". I've considered this a bit, though, and here's my take on it. Yes, they used somewhat thinner plastic on here than I might like to see. Given that design constraint, I'd rather see them make a machine where the control box can flex a little on the mounting, instead of trying to make everything super-rigid and just having the whole thing break off.
I've put in a lot of hours on this machine. I'd say as long as you don't knock it into trees, it should be OK.
The flexion is really not noticeable, unless... well, unless you deliberately try to flex the control box. Overall, the build quality is actually quite good, and it's certainly a lot better than Bounty Hunter.
The other weak point is the EMI sensitivity and resulting chatter. We'll discuss these elsewhere in the review.
For now, know that neither of these things is a deal-breaker, in my opinion.
Here's what I see as the highlights:
- Four different multi-tone Discriminate modes (d1 through d4), each with different audio tone characteristics. d3 offers three-tone audio; d4 is four-tone audio. Either of these is good for coins. If I'm in an area where everything above iron could be interesting, I use d3.
- Big LCD screen with numeric target ID. One secret of metal detecting is if the number bounces around, it has a higher chance of being junk (unless it's a deep target... then all bets are off). This meter displays nice big, easy-to-read numbers so you can decide if you want to dig it. The numeric target ID is very consistent on shallow to mid-depth targets, as long as they're not corroded or weirdly-shaped.
- Light weight, great ergonomics. Design is similar to the Minelab X-Terra series. It's like a mini flat-panel screen.
- Knob-controlled discrimination & sensitivity adjustments. I'm really glad they did this. Even a computerized machine should have some analog controls. Just because. On the other hand, it has few enough knobs that it won't be confusing to a beginner.
- Manual ground balance + "Ground Grab" function. The "ground grab" is helpful in AT mode, but I like the + and - buttons even better. When the machine indicates "ground error", you can just use the buttons to correct it as you go along. This also works in Discriminate mode, too.
- Good depth: competitive for its price range. Top-level detectors (T2, F75, ETRAC, etc) will give somewhat more depth, but not huge amounts more. A lot of it will depend on the conditions, your technique, etc. (We'll talk a little bit more about depth later.)
Let's dispel a myth here. Contrary to what you may have heard, Fisher / Teknetics machines are not re-labeled Bounty Hunters. They have better software, faster recovery time, and generally better depth. There's still a reason why Bounty Hunters are cheaper.
You can buy computerized detectors that feel more substantial than the Omega (I'm thinking of Minelab here), but they're a lot heavier... and they cost quite a bit more.
How deep will it find coins? That's actually tough to answer conclusively (for any metal detector, not just this one). There are a lot of variables!
I know... you probably still want to know how well it air tests. I was curious, too. That's why I went ahead and checked, using a U.S. silver dime. I'll be the first one to tell you that air tests don't mean a whole lot compared to "real life". However, at least they give a starting reference.
Take note that the following tests were for a repeatable, recognizable "good" signal. These were not tests out to the limit of detection depth; once you get beyond the repeatable / recognizable zone, you might as well be using all-metal mode and digging everything. And if you're going to do that, the air test might as well be in "all metal" mode from the get-go.
The tests were in discriminate mode with the standard 10" elliptical coil. Again, I looked for a repeatable signal that was easily recognizable as good.
Sensitivity 75, Disc 40.........6.5"
Sensitivity 85, Disc 40..........7"
Sensitivity 90, Disc 40..........7.5"
Sensitivity 95, Disc 40...........8"
Just for comparison:
Fisher 1266-X w/ 8" concentric......Sens 85%, Disc1 at 4.5....................7"
Minelab Explorer XS w/ 10.5" DD....Sens 24, Iron Mask -16...................8"
Again, these are definite "dig" signals, not limits of detection. With the Omega you can push the air test to about 1/2 inch farther and still probably recognize the signal as good. So, you might be able to push it to 8 1/2 inches on a dime at Sens 95. Yes, you can air test 11 to 12" on a quarter... if you have the 11" DD coil and the sensitivity cranked. I hunt mostly with the concentric coil, just because I like the pinpointing.
The Omega 8000 offers respectable coin depth in real-life finds, too. Unless your ground is really nasty, you should be able to find dimes at 7 to 7 1/2 inches without a problem. Dig a lot of those weaker signals (which may or may not "bounce") and you can push that to as much as 9", as long as you're willing to dig some deep iron, too.
On the deepest objects, the audio and target ID will tend to jump around more than you'll get with, say, a Minelab E-TRAC, but the Omega is competitive with most any other detector below that (including the X-Terra series, which can jump around a bit with numeric ID's.)
Realistically, figure on some chatter and falsing when the sensitivity exceeds 70 to 75. At 90 and above the falsing can get pretty severe. This could vary for you, though, because it depends somewhat on the amount of electromagnetic interference (EMI) in your area. I find that even at 90-95, the chatter settles down greatly when the coil is on the ground, which is where you'll be using it anyway. (It may not settle down if you hunt near power lines.) A 1/4" EMI choke (about $4.40 here) can help (maybe) if your interference is coming from a mobile phone or a microwave tower, but probably not in other situations. I don't think I've ever noticed a difference when carrying a phone, but some people say their phones cause chatter.
After a long time using a Minelab Explorer in Iron Mask -16, I became accustomed to hearing a bunch of low tones that at first seemed overwhelming. After a while I learned to ignore them and just listen for anything out of the ordinary. You can do that with the Omega 8000, too. Just turn down your Discrim knob and you'll hear all the iron tones.
Long-time relic hunters often go by the volume of a signal they're about to dig. In other words, is it loud and shallow, or faint and deep? The Omega 8000 has some modes that better accommodate this hunting style. In "discriminate", there are the d1 and d2 modes. Here, volume and audio pitch vary depending on the size and depth of an object. This is called VCO, or "voltage controlled oscillator", a useful tool for relic hunters.
In "all metals", the 8000 offers four additional modes: a1 through a4. These, too, are VCO modes, which means the tone varies only on target size and distance, not conductivity. You're going to have to experiment with this machine to find out what works the best for you.
I still mostly use the d3 and d4 modes, which are primarily coin modes, but I've found some cool (and deep) relics with them anyway. Once you learn this machine's language, you can decide whether you just want to go for the easy coin signals, or perhaps dig those more complex "high-tone bouncers" and other iffy sounds. I dig a lot of stuff that rings up outside the definite coin range, and occasionally it turns up something really cool...
This find showed up in the nickel or pulltab range. It's a 1788 Connecticut copper that was clipped in half before it was lost. I've heard that people back in those days snipped coppers to make their own "half cents", but I don't know if that's true. I do know that sometimes they cut silver coins into halves or quarters to make fractional values. They could easily have done the same thing with coppers, because back then you could actually buy stuff with half a penny.Running the 8000, you'll find it's a little more high-strung than, say, a Fisher F2, but it offers better performance and a bit more information. The Omega 8000's ability to adjust ground balance is a huge help and can maximize the sensitivity on deep targets. This is why air tests are of such limited usefulness; you might air test a Fisher F2 and say "Hey, this thing is only like 1/2 inch behind the 8000", but when you use them in real life, guess which one punches deeper. Once again, manual ground balance... and the Omega also allows you to crank the sensitivity to work "into the noise" where the maximum performance lives. A 0 to 99 scale offers fine granularity of adjustment.
The 8000 is chatty at high Sens, but as I said before, even at higher settings the machine usually quiets down when the coil is put to the turf. If you get false blips, just pay attention to the ones that repeat.
The Teknetics Omega 8000 is the top of their "Greek alphabet" line. That places it just underneath their flagship T2. At a discounted price that hovers somewhere under $600 (here), the Omega has enough capability to satisfy the long-time enthusiast, but it's not nearly as expensive as top-end models which can go for $1,200+.
The 8000 was designed to be good for coinshooting, but it's equally good for relic hunting if you learn the different modes (and crank the SENS knob for the deep stuff). The ergonomic design, combined with the multiple tone ID modes, the respectable depth, and the nice big LCD screen, make this machine a joy to use.
Yes, the Omega 8000 is chatty at high sensitivity, but I've found that the chatter usually stops when you're sweeping the coil across the ground (which is how you use the machine anyway). If you really want to hunt "into the noise" and find the deepest treasures, some chatter goes with the territory.
One area where the Omega unquestionably beats a lot of other detectors is in weight and handling. For this reason I even prefer the Omega over the Fisher F5, which in most other ways is comparable and costs less (usually; get yours here). The Omega's better balance translates to less fatigue, which becomes more important the longer you're into detecting. This machine also has a wider iron range than the F5, which becomes important if you hunt relics.
"What's the best metal detector for the money, if I could only ever have one?" In the $600 price bracket, and assuming you're not looking for a one-tone "analog" machine (such as the Tejon), then the Omega 8000 could very well be the answer.
Obviously, budget does play a role here. If you have $1,600 set aside for a detector and want maximum performance, then my recommendation would probably be an E-TRAC. If you have $950 to spend, then I'd probably say get the Fisher F75. With that said, if your budget is about $600 for a new metal detector, I can't think of anything with an LCD screen that I'd rather have than the Omega. As always, that's just my opinion, but I think this machine is underrated.
Here's a quick recap for the Omega:
- Flexion of the control housing may feel a bit cheap
- Susceptibility to EMI / chatter
- No volume control (you'll need headphones with their own)
- Large LCD screen gets scratched easily (get screen protectors!!)
- Excellent balance & light weight
- Stable Target ID for all but the trashiest areas / deepest targets.
- Fe3O4 meter shows real-time ground mineralization
- Manual ground balance
- Good depth
- Genuine "all-metal" / AT mode
- Analog-style knobs for SENS and DISC
- Large LCD screen with lots of info
- Chatter usually quiets down when coil is put to the ground
Get yours through this link and it really helps me keep this site on-line. Or, shop through any of the other links on this page. Even if you're not in the market for a detector, you can show your support for this site by using the links to buy just about anything... from computer gear to home improvement goods.
By the way, if you have or are planning to get an Omega 8000, do yourself a favor and get a pack of those universal screen protector sheets (shown below). This will keep your Omega LCD screen from getting all scratched up. The Omega's screen is about 3 1/8" x 2 1/8", so the Fellowes ones are plenty big enough. I went ahead and included a link to them at the bottom of this page. I also recommend getting a rain & dust cover to protect the electronics in case you're out 'tectin and it starts raining. The one shown below (currently $15.99) fits the Omega 8000 or any of the other "Greek alphabet" series.
Thanks for reading!!