Minelab CTX 3030 Metal Detector Review

The Minelab CTX 3030 is not the kind of detector that’s bought every day, the price is far too high for that.  But, when someone pulls the trigger on it, the CTX performs as advertised.  It’s feature-loaded to the max, so there will be a lot to learn, but if you’re willing to spend two grand on it, then you’re likely patient enough to learn the ins and outs to maximize its potential.  

The CTX is a long-time favorite for many, so here’s a rundown on the features that stand out.

At a Glance…

✔️ Best Feature: FBS 2

Worst Feature: Price

👌 Ideal For: Shallow Water, Water, All Terrains, Gold, Silver, Coins, Jewelry, Relics, Intermediates, Experts

  • FBS 2 Technology
  • Smartfind 2D Discrimination
  • Target Trace
  • Sensitivity & Volume Gain
  • Built-in GPS

Our Verdict: Wireless technology, smart coils, Full Band Spectrum wavelengths, simultaneous discrimination analyzation, and there’s plenty more where all that came from.  The Minelab CTX 3030 is all-terrain ready and fully armored to detect at max performance the first time, all the time, every time.

Who is the Minelab CTX 3030 Best Suited to?

The CTX is definitely not the get-out-and-go type of detector upon box opening.  The manual may not help beginners much either even though it’s 75 pages long.  There’s a lot left wanting in the user manual, but it does provide a starting point to learn the many features and advantages the CTX provides. 

Most of the education will come from other users, reviews, and videos from CTX owners and from getting out there in field and testing it out – as always, start out easy in quiet ground.  Intermediates and experts who may have experience with the E-Trac detector will have a leg up, but there’s still so much more the CTX provides.  Beginners – beware and be patient.  Everyone else, take the time to learn it before you judge it. 

How Does the Minelab CTX 3030 Perform?

The CTX 3030 is believed to be the best metal detector on the planet according to many loyal users.  You can bet these users have spent plenty of time out in the field and have an intricate understanding of the CTX and its many functions.  Once you learn how it functions, you’ll see that the concurrent multi-frequency technology is unlike and is superior to single and selectable frequency technologies.  It’s an extremely accurate and high-precision detector that has features from its Wi-Stream, FBS 2, and Smartfind 2 tech to its GPSi, FindPoint, Target Trace, and so much more. 

Features & Benefits

FBS 2 Technology

FBS 2 (Full Band Spectrum 2) is a patented technology owned by the brand.  It’s as is its name suggests – a full band spectrum of multiple frequency technology.  Now, this is true multi-frequency technology with 28 available frequencies from 1.5-100 kHz.  Interestingly, the frequencies travel in a rectangular wave which apparently improves coil-to-detector communication.  The new electronics and smart coils provide greater depth perception, even 10% more than Minelab’s E-Trac.  FBS 2 also provides auto sensitivity and ground compensation, multi-channel signal conversion for enhancing target separation, and Smartfind 2D discrimination. 

Because the CTX is a multi-frequency concurrent machine, it seems there isn’t the ability to use only a single frequency at a time.  But, then again, there’s no need to when all frequencies are covering the entire spectrum allowing you detect all-sized objects in one sweep.  There’s no need to switch between frequencies to make multiple sweeps over the same ground to ensure you don’t miss a target. 

Smartfind 2D Discrimination

This technology is one of the provided advantages of having FBS tech.  This advanced feature is a game changer.  Much in the same way that 28 frequencies are in simultaneous operation, the Smartfind 2 also analyzes both ferrous and non-ferrous objects simultaneously.  This data is presented to the user in three ways: in Fe (ferrous) and Co (conductive) tones, numerically with a Target ID, and graphically on 2D display scale.  This not only aids and improves on target separation, but it also provides extreme detail about whether an item is a good or trash. 

Target Trace

This feature is a direct benefit of the Smartfind 2 tech.  Target Trace provides a real time graphic in full-color the detections that are sent out to determine the Target ID of an object.  This is extremely beneficial for target separation.  Where inferior detectors would only pick up on the larger objects and where ferrous objects would slow down detection speed, the CTX is able to go much further. 

It can virtually provide an image to show ferrous and conductive objects, even if they’re next to each other, regardless of size.  No longer will small and valuable finds be lost, masked, or missed by trash items. 

Sensitivity & Volume Gain

You have both auto and manual sensitivity modes.  In Auto, the range is -3 to 3.   In Manual, the range is 1-30.  Automatic Sensitivity allows the detector to use the best sensitivity level for the ground phase to minimize ground signals.  The detector is continuously measuring the response.  In Manual mode, you can set sensitivity yourself.  Two numbers will appear on the screen, one in white and one in green. 

The green number is the recommended sensitivity level and the white number is the current sensitivity level that is set and the detector is working with.  When in auto mode, you may see these numbers change as it’s continuously measuring the ground.  It will be best to reset sensitivity if these numbers become significantly different. 

The Volume Gain feature amplifies the audio the audio response, so you can hear weaker signals louder. Its adjustable range is from 0-30.  At level 30, it will be difficult to differentiate between medium and strong signals as the volume is turned all the way up.  On the bright side, weaker signals will be louder.  It’s important to note that adjusting volume gain will not increase or decrease sensitivity – it’s just the target audio response volume that you’re adjusting. 

Limitations

Price

This is not a cheap metal detector as it will take time to save up to afford it.  There are a lot of extras built into the Minelab CTX, and only you can decide if those extras are worth it. 

Steep Learning Curve

The user interface is not very friendly as there are multiple screens to access, and of course, buttons to push to get there.  But, what would you expect with a machine that’s packed to the max with expert-level features?  It’s fair to say that it’s not a beginner-friendly detector.  Many starters to detecting want a flip and go-ready detector out of the box – this isn’t that kind of unit. 

There will be a learning curve to figure out how to use the detector and access all the features it has through the display.  It will take some time, but when you’ve got a good grip on its functions, you’ll find the CTX to work as advertised – exceptional. 

Popular Questions

How do You Use the Minelab CTX 3030?

There is much confusion on the technologies that make up the CTX.  There is also confusion on how to best use the CTX to get the best results.  This is understandable as it’s a very complicated detector to master, especially for the beginner.  Even once you come to an understanding of using the CTX, some of its functions and its many screens may be time consuming. 

While there is a user manual, there is a lot left wanting.  Highly recommended across the board is the “Minelab CTX 3030 Metal Detector Handbook” book by Andy Sabisch that can be purchased online.  Almost 200 pages long, it will provide in-depth detail about unlocking its many features and full potential. 

Is the CTX 3030 Metal Detector Waterproof?

The CTX is waterproof up to 10 feet.  It can be used in both fresh and saltwater areas.  The battery pack is waterproof only when it’s connected to the detector, but the ¼” headphone module found at the very top of the control box, the WM 10 wireless module, and the headphones are not waterproof. 

What Coil Comes Standard with the CTX Detector?

The standard package includes a CTX 11” DD searchcoil.  However, other CTX searchcoil sizes include a 6” and 17”. 

Is the CTX 3030 Worth it?

If you need high-precision, multiple simultaneous frequencies, and are searching for targets of all sizes from tiny to large, the CTX may prove to be worth it.  Hunting in high-mineralized conditions or revisiting old hunting sites and very trodden down areas can be searched again as it will sweep through the ground at greater depths like a long-pronged, fine-tooth comb.  If you plan on hunting in various terrains, around the world, and underwater, the CTX could be your go-to, universal, and professional detector.

Conclusion

Is there any detector that can do it all?  The Minelab CTX 3030 comes pretty darn close to it.  Of course, price will be a major factor in determining if it’s the right detector for you. 

Even though the learning curve will require more than what’s needed for other detectors, the rewards will be great when you finally understand how to use it.  There’s no need to own multiple detectors when you can have one, solid, high-performing machine that does it all.

Further Reading:

About Simon Owen

I’m Simon and I love finding things. From a young age I always had the knack to find coins, notes, wallets and more. All of that was without the use of technology. I look forward to sharing with you some amazing tech that will make your treasure hunt a lot easier.