Having now been treasure hunting now for over 25 years, I can't imagine how many sets of headphones I have gone through. Back then, there were really no companies producing "detecting" headsets like there are today. So, many of us made do with whatever stereo type headphones that we could actually get to work on a metal detector. Of course headphones made for listening to the stereo at home couldn't handle the riggers of serious treasure hunting.
Nowadays, the metal detectorist has a wide array of headphone choices available with fancy names and price ranges that can go over $140.00….or close to the cost of a back-up detector! Thus the casual coinshooter may get along fine and enjoy a low priced pair, and this is great. But, someone like a relic or nugget hunter using headphones usually "thrown in" with a new detector purchase will be disappointed as these headsets rarely survive getting pushed and pulled in the field.
Being fortunate enough to have been chosen to do several advertisements, field tests, as well as help with research and development on many detector products, I get to try many of the "top end" headphones offered today. Many became eternal back-ups; others were given away to other detectorists if they didn't have exactly what I look for in a headset.
What is it that's so important? Well, I would have to say there are two main aspects I look for in a set of headphones now. They are being built rugged and also being loud.
Being serious about doing lots of legwork to get to early relic sites and ghost towns deep into forests, really being built to last is a must. Often my headphones bounce around in a backpack alongside the rest of my gear while hiking hard. Plus, once you get to a site that's often heavily wooded, it's easy to catch headphone wires onto branches. Believe me I have learned the hard way breaking headphones 3 miles from the car with no spare pair. A fully loaded backpack can't hold spare headphones, so we venture off and need to have trust in 1 very durable pair.
When Sun Ray called to ask if I would like to try their new "Sun Ray Pro" headphones, I said sure. But, I also stated that I already had a couple sets I was pretty happy with. Yet, when Sun Ray ran down the list of several impressive features, hearing "toggle switch boots" perked my ears up. What may sound very minor is actually very important to the type of rugged hunting I mentioned. Many top shelf headphones have the basic chrome toggle switch. The pair I was using passed the test for clear/loud volume, but on a rainy, muddy trip to England the switch got stuck and broke in the middle of a field rendering them useless. I was forced to hunt half the day without headphones, and found very little. In disgust those headphones got punted back toward the bus when we were picked up. It was later found that dirt and moisture got inside the open toggle switch. This is why Sun Ray's switch boots sounded awful intriguing. Still, I was skeptical it would have everything else I needed, especially good volume.
When I got the Sun Ray pro's I looked over an obviously well built product. I immediately inspected the all important cable design, as I have ripped out, or severed many different headset cables in the woods. I spied a very durable looking coiled cable, that featured a right angle gold plated plug for top sound quality. But, even better is an external strain relief that appeared strong enough to break branches rather than vice versa. So far, so good.
I also have to mention that they came folded up or curled inward thanks to the duel swivel point ear cups. This is perfect for packing into my backpack- another plus in my book. The Sun Ray Pro headphones also feature 2 toggle switches on 1 side (as mentioned, covered with black rubber boots to keep dirt/moisture at bay). One switch is called a "limiter". This on/off toggle switch is a circuit that can be activated to reduce those surface blasts from large, shallow targets such as a can or plow part. This is very welcome for someone like myself who enjoys running the detector and phones almost on max. But, perhaps the best part is that putting the limiter on will not diminish those faint whispers from being heard. Some may assume this would not be possible, but it is on the Pro’s. The other switch is the "mode selector" which will make the new Sun Ray Pro's compatible with most every detector out there. I tried mine on every unit that I own, and also several other brands at my local dealers and they sounded great and compatible with every one.
Speaking of sound, all the "extras" I've already mentioned are great so far, but again I really desire good, loud volume. Why? Well, with the type of detecting that I do, and the type of units I use to get to deep relics, I need to hear everything clearly. Most of the Fisher units I use have 4 tones and also I often run them on "all metal" as well. Though some would prefer to "silent search" or turn their headphone "chatter" down, I like to hear every single change. Often I can pick out a small object like a coin or a button that lay "masked" amid a bed of iron trash. I like to hear all the blips, or iron "grunts" as often a weak target others missed can be in there too. So, in short, many brands just plain didn't seem loud to me, even with their volume all the way up.
Well, the Sun Ray Pro's were a different story. If fact, they are currently the loudest detector headphones I own at the moment. Beneficial here is that the ear cups really fit fully over the ears and totally block out all background noises. They are comfy to boot, with an adjustable ribbed headband. Looking inside the ear cups, one can see that the high output 150-ohm nominal impedance speakers are aluminum case construction with polymer cones. This means they can handle the moisture and sweat protection that comes with the hobby. I found the different tones were crisp and easy to distinguish, and even faint signals were clear and they are hearing aid compatible too. Again, so far so good.
The Sun Ray Pro's also feature dual volume controls on each ear cup. I owned a pair of headphones once that only had one dial, and many others had "free turning" dials, meaning volume often got bumped down easily. Well, another fine feature of the Pro's are the volume knobs themselves. What's so special about a knob? Well, these knobs are "segmented". This means they are detent controls that offer an amazing 32 different volume positions. In other words, they don't get bumped out of position, they click and hold right where the user chooses, even when I pack them. Again, some will only choose to put their headset volume half way up, while others like myself will be up near the loudest point. So, there's a lot of flexibility to go up or down with the Sun Ray Pro's, and I now have a set with volume to spare even. Another trick to achieving the perfect pair of headphones is having a happy medium between lightweight YET still durable. I owned a pair that were durable, but to be this way were very heavy, awkward, and didn't fold up at all. I have been field-testing the Sun Ray Pro's for a few months now and they have been with me week after week, on many different adventures and on many different detectors. They have seen lots of activity, and I have scratched them, pulled them, etc, and they now look well used. Mine have been out in the rain with no worries at all. The Sun Ray Pro’s have passed the test for a durable headphone, and for additional piece of mind they also have a limited lifetime warranty. With all the added features and for under $100.00, the Sun Ray Pro’s outperform many other "top end" headphones that can cost $50.00 more. For more information about the Sun Ray Pro headphones you may visit the Sun Ray website at
or call Ralph at Sun Ray at (319) 636-2244.