Guest Post: DFX vs Explorer SE – Part I


The title of this article is a bit misleading. I don’t necessarily consider one machine to be better than the other. Each machine does outperform the other in certain situations, however. As I am new to the SE, this is not an in-depth comparison. Basically, this is a first impressions report on the SE using the DFX as a known reference. I am not going into details, just the most notable differences. When I am more proficient with the SE I can provide a more informed perspective.

Look and Feel
The DFX is a good looking machine – it looks like a detector should look. The SE is a sleek looking unit. The SE has no visible cables and the shiny black upper shaft, the carbon fiber lower rod, the locking cams, control box and black labelled battery compartment make for a sophisticated looking machine. Both are sturdy and do not wobble. I consider the DFX, with the DX-1 probe and standard coil, to be a fairly heavy machine, but not too heavy. I can swing it for long periods of time without a problem. The weight can become an issue when hunting in rough terrain, or when a lot of hiking is involved. The SE (3 lb 7 oz without batteries) is comparable in weight to the DFX (4 lb with batteries). The balance of both machines is excellent.

When using the DFX I tend to rely on Tone ID more than the display, but I always check the display before digging a target. The DFX has a one-dimensional display with 190 possible VDI values. It ranges from -95 (ferrous) to 95 (conductive). The DFX display is two-dimensional if you take the signal strength bars into account, but we will disregard this feature for the sake of clarity. The SE has a two-dimensional display with 1024 possible values. The horizontal axis (0 to 31) represents the ferrous content of the target and the vertical axis (0 to 31) represents the conductivity of the target. With the DFX I can pretty much tell what is in the ground. The SE, for a newbie, is difficult because there are so many places a target can show up on the display. A one-dimensional representation is easier for the mind to interpret than a two-dimensional representation. I think this is the source of the Explorer learning curve people talk about…the rest of the machine is easy to master. I do believe the SE’s two-dimensional display offers tremendous potential for an experienced user. I just cannot deduce the target as easily as I can with the DFX…yet.

According to the manuals, the DFX sweep speed is about two seconds and the SE’s is about four seconds. This is a big difference. As a dual frequency detector the DFX doesn’t have as much data to process compared to the 28 frequency SE. For me, this is an important factor to consider when choosing a machine to use for a certain environment. If you want to cover a lot of ground and cherry pick targets the DFX will be a better choice. If you have a site you really want to concentrate on and take your time, the SE is the better choice. More on this below.

Depth and Stability
I think these two topics are related because they are dependent upon a machine’s ability to send, receive and process clean signals. The DFX, in general, is very stable and has great depth, but it is susceptible to EMI and struggles in salt water. Don’t get me wrong, the DFX can hunt the wet sand as well or better than most land detectors, but falsing in the waves and reduction in depth are things I have experienced first hand. The SE has no problems with EMI. I hunted directly under the main lines by the RR tracks in Memorial and had absolutely no interference. I have never used a machine that goes as deep as the SE in wet salt sand, or normal ground for that matter. I assume the same could be said of highly mineralized ground, but I haven’t used either machine in such an environment.

Which One?
I would hate to have to make that choice. Luckily, I have both machines and can use the best one for the job at hand. I really love the DFX and would not want to be without it. I have a lot to learn about the SE but it has already proven its worth at the beach and elsewhere. Here is a sample list of environments and the machine I would choose for each:

  • Large Area – DFX
  • EMI – SE
  • Wet Salt Sand – SE

    I do not want to get any more specific than that at the moment. Since each machine can use specialized coils, there is a lot of overlap concerning their respective capabilities. I have often thought that if I wanted to really clean out a place I may hunt it with the DFX, then take the SE and hunt it again…slowly.

    Other Considerations
    There are many other worthy topics for discussion concerning these two units, but I’ll save them for another time. Discrimination, programming, detailed display characteristics, tones, etc. are important things to consider when choosing a machine. I will close with a thought we should all keep in mind: There are many detectorists out there with low-end machines that can out-hunt other detectorists with high-end machines. It is crucial that, whichever machine you have, you learn it and dig, dig, dig. The machine is important but not nearly as important as the user, their knowledge, their experience and their unhesitating willingness to dig.

    Happy Hunting!
    The Beeps Goes On

    Editor Note:
    This article was originally posted at:
    This article has been approved for re-publication by the author.

    Author: Chris Burroughs (TBGO)
    My name is Chris, although I go by The Beep Goes On (TBGO) when posting on the various metal detecting forums. I started detecting in 2002, mainly in Galveston. Life got a little hectic and I stopped detecting at the end of 2004. I took a couple of years off. I got a new DFX and started up again in February 2006. I decided to concentrate on local parks and, surprisingly, my finds increased dramatically. I do not think anyone had hunted the grass parks and sports fields in my area. Since then I have become a fairly avid detectorist and have really enjoyed getting out and hunting. I also enjoy participating in the growing online detecting community.

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  • 9 Responses to “Guest Post: DFX vs Explorer SE – Part I”

    • Osros Says:

      Very informative, exactly what I was looking for. I am looking for my first high-end unit and deciding between the DFX and SE. Looking forward for the next installment.

    • Osros Says:

      Very informative, exactly what I was looking for. I am looking for my first high-end unit and deciding between the DFX and SE. Looking forward for the next installment.

    • JimBo Says:

      Thanks for providing this report.. can’t wait for part II. I’m glad you’re using both metal detectors! I plan on doing the same. I currently have the SE.. and thinking about buying the DFX

    • Dickie Says:

      Interesting article. I am wondering what settings you were using while hunting with the SE. I recently purchased one and I am having difficulty getting depth out of the machine. I have used settings receommended by the seller of the machine and have even spoken with customer service in Las Vegas and tried the settings they recommend. To this point, it has been a bit frustrating. I am using the machine exclusively for civil war relic hunting.

    • TBGO Says:

      Dickie – When going for depth with the SE I select all metal (Clear) with Ferrous Tones and set the Sensitivity to manual. I set the Sensitivity as high as it can go while maintaining stability and target separation.

    • Dickie Says:

      TBGO -Thanks for the info. Do you have any problems identifying target signals with the Sensitivity set to manual. I have tried the manual setting and with the constant noise you hear, it seems a small deep target would be difficult to hear.

    • TBGO Says:

      You have four choices in that situation. Reduce the sensitivity, use some discrimination, use iron mask, or just go very slowly. If you are getting a lot of noise with sensitivity on manual it is either set too high, the ground conditions vary continuously, or there are just a lot of targets in the ground. If your sensitivity isn’t the problem, then you might consider using iron mask, going very slowly, set the detector on Deep and approach the area from different directions. In trashy areas when you are trying to find deep targets this is a decent method. Lots of variables, I know, but you just have to try different things until you hit the right settings for the environment.

    • Mel Says:

      Is there a DFX vs Explorer SE – Part 2 somewhere? I’m unable to find it?


    • TBGO Says:

      I haven’t been hunnting very much much lately…been riding a new motorcycle I got and work has been pretty demanding. I would like to get out here more often and, when I do, I plan on writing up Part II.

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