DS Audio’s Truly Excellent ES 001 Eccentricity Detection Stabilizer

The Stabilizer in Action: All DS Audio ES 001 photos herein by Michael Trei.

One problem that seems to plague many turntable designers is they frequently start with the assumption that the record you’re going to play on their creation is perfect — as in, it’s flat, smooth, and perfectly centered. Unfortunately, this is rarely true, as most records do have errors of one type or another.

I would argue perfect centering is far more important than having a flat record. [Agreed!—MM] Even the slightest amount of wiggling back and forth as the record spins will cause two distinct problems. For starters, as the cartridge jogs from side to side, the arm’s horizontal motion will be reversing direction every 0.9 seconds, resulting in potential stiction problems with gimbal bearings, and potential azimuth shifts with a unipivot as the stylus drags the arm to the left, and then to the right.

More importantly, an off-center record’s pitch will be constantly wavering up and down every 1.8 seconds. If, for example, you’ve ever looked at a readout from the Dr. Feickert PlatterSpeed app, you will have noticed there’s a green line that shows speed over time, and a yellow line that looks like a sine wave. The green line has been filtered by the app to make it easier to interpret, but the wiggly yellow line represents what you actually hear when you’re listening to the record.

We have solutions to help deal with a lack of flatness, of course. There are clamps, weights, rings, vacuum platters, and even record-flattening machines that can make your record as flat as a mirror, but a lack of perfectly centered records is a problem pretty much all turntable designers have chosen to ignore.

It wasn’t always this way. Forty years ago, Nakamichi offered two models that endeavored to center your records perfectly, using contraptions that would have made Rube Goldberg proud. But now, after nearly 40 years of most everyone ignoring the problem, DS Audio has introduced its solution — namely, the DS Audio ES 001 eccentricity detection stabilizer.


The ES 001 is an intensely clever device that uses LEDs and electronics to determine how off-center your record is, but fixing the problem isn’t always so simple. First of all, an off-center record can be the result of two things. Sometimes, it’s simply that there’s a little play between the turntable’s spindle and the hole, making it pure luck how centered the record is when you drop it onto the platter — but more often, the hole isn’t perfectly concentric with the grooves, due to imperfect positioning of the stamper in the press when the record was made. The ES 001 is perfect for fixing the first problem, though solving the second one might require more drastic measures.

The DS Audio ES 001 (which retails for $6,000) looks a bit like a fancy audiophile record weight, albeit one with a small display screen on top. It has two parts: 1) a base that sits flat on a record’s label, centered on the platter spindle by a clever self-adjusting hole, and 2) the main measuring unit and display, which can rotate freely on the base. To measure your record’s centering, you place the ES 001 on the record with the platter stopped, and then, while holding the top half of the device, you start the platter, and will next be prompted on the screen to start the measurement.


The ES 001’s optical sensors will read any movement in the position of the lead-out groove at the end of the record, then show the results as a plus sign (+) on a target in the display. You then stop the platter and nudge the record by hand to get the plus sign as close to the center of the target as possible. If you’re 100% perfect, you will be rewarded with a message saying, “The center is ok.” If not, you can repeat the test to try and refine your results. The entire process can be done in as little as 30 seconds, but that length of time may vary depending on how long your platter takes to start and stop. Once you’ve got it lined up, you can remove the ES 001 and play the record as is, or you can add a weight of your choice (more about that later).

If the record is pressed accurately and you’re only dealing with a little slop between the spindle and hole, you’re golden. But if the hole is actually a tiny bit off-center, you may have to take matters into your own hands (so to speak). Included in the kit that comes with the ES 001 is a reamer that can be used to expand the record hole a little bit, giving more scope for adjustment. Of course, doing this is non-reversible, so you’re going to have to ask yourself whether you really want to permanently alter your record so you can center it perfectly. I found, in most cases, that even when I couldn’t get a record centered to “The center is ok” standards, I was able to minimize the eccentricity without having to ream out the hole.


Compatibility Options

Before I got the DS Audio ES 001 review sample in hand, I figured my Roksan turntable with its removable spindle would be a perfect match for the device, with plenty of scope to move the record around on the platter as needed. As it turns out, the device needs to be perfectly centered relative to the platter, and that self-adjusting center hole doesn’t get small enough to lock down on the stub left when you take off the Roksan’s spindle. The device will still work on a Roksan or Vertere turntable, but you need to leave the removable spindle cap in place.

Turntables with record-clamping systems can be problematic when used with the ES 001. Most clamps work by placing a washer around the spindle to lift the center of the record, then the clamp flexes the record down onto the platter surface. Because the ES 001 has to sit flat on the record label to work, you will have to remove the lift washer to use it — but once the record has been centered, you have no way to put the washer back without disturbing the record’s position.

This could be a problem with many high-end turntables including SME, Kuzma, Brinkmann, AMG, VPI, and others. You can always carefully replace the ES 001 with a record weight or a simple clamp that doesn’t use a lift washer, but your elaborate clamp may not be compatible. Even with turntables like the Dr. Feickert that don’t use a lift washer, you will need to take care not to shift the record’s position as you screw the clamp into place. I used the ES 001 with my Brinkmann La Grange turntable by simply using its clamp with the lift washer removed, while taking care not to shift the record on the glass platter. (I did not have a vacuum platter turntable available at the time of this review, so I could not try the ES 001 with one of them.)


The Stabilizer Percentages

In a perfect world, the DS Audio ES 001 would have no purpose, but in reality, without correction, pretty much every record will sit on your platter a little off-center. While testing the ES 001, I went through over 100 records to see how bad they were — thankfully, very few were off by more than the center bullseye ring of the display’s target area. In most cases, I could reduce any error by at least 75%, just by manipulating the record within the play around the spindle.

This adjustment can vary a bit, depending on how tight your record spindle is. I found my Thorens TD-125 rarely left any play, while my Technics SL-1200 offered more scope. I did successfully use the reamer on a couple of particularly bad LP examples, but permanently altering my records really cuts against the grain for me. I just can’t do it.


Sonically, a perfectly centered record takes on a lot of the better qualities of an open reel tape, or, dare I say it, a CD. There is a solidity and sure-footed quality that becomes addictive, with no ambiguity in the pitch of each note. This is most obvious with a pitch-stable instrument like a piano, but the effect is quite audible with most instruments. Chords sound more in tune, and harmonically complex. As Linn’s Ivor Tiefenbrun would say, it plays the tune.


The improvements wrought by the DS Audio ES 001 eccentricity detection stabilizer can be quite striking, and this device demonstrates how pointless it is to get too worked up about a turntable’s wow and flutter specs unless you can also address this basic issue. True, something as simple as a tapered spindle, like those used on TechDAS turntables, can go a long way towards fixing the centering problem, albeit in a much-easier-to-implement way.

Though the hurdles I’ve outlined above, plus the device’s hefty $6K price tag, will admittedly limit the ES 001’s appeal for some, I’m quite happy its mere existence will finally get people talking about this fundamental problem with LP playback. Fact is, the DS Audio ES 001 eccentricity detection stabilizer does exactly what it is designed to do. It is simple and quick to use, and it helps remedy a critical record-centering problem I’ve often wished was a bit easier to address.

For More Info

For more information about DS Audio, go here. If you want to order an ES 001, go here, and be sure to scroll down to the USA and Canada section underneath the America & South America header to find out exactly where to do so.

Author bio: Since the mid-1980s Michael Trei has worn several hats in the high-end audio world, at times serving as a retailer, installer, distributor, and writer (his byline often appears in Sound & Vision, in fact). For the last 20 years, he has also offered his services as a high-end turntable setup specialist, working on hundreds of systems a year for both customers and dealers around the globe.


PAR's picture

To some extent I have been doing something similar for the past 50 years ( manipulating the centre hole of off centre pressings). However this device promises more accuracy. The main problem is that although although it indicates if it is OFF centre finding the correct centre seems still to involve a fair bit of trial and error. Remember too that what is correct for side one may be incorrect for side two especially is misaligned stampers in the press are the cause. Getting both sides of an LP correct could seemingly take a long time - one album an evening :-)?

This is a real problem and it is great to see another attempt to address it. It shows new thinking but the price for what is not an easy solution is off putting but might encourage something with a more realistic tariff.

miguelito's picture

you put it on the turntable. If you flip sides, you need to do that too. It doesn't seem it takes that much effort TBH - according to what Mike said it is a relatively quick operation. Also the tool to enlarge the hole does not "correct" the alignment, just makes the hole larger so you have more room to play.

eugeneharrington's picture

I fully understand your reluctance to 'alter' the spindle holes on your records, but I have to ask what good is a record that is 'off centre' and plays with the anomalies mentioned in your excellent article? I alter the spindle holes on many records I purchase because this 'off centre' defect is widespread throughout the industry. There is nothing (well maybe 'non fill') that annoys me more than a spindle hole that is not properly centred. When you start out on this apparent destructive path it can be very daunting. The good news, at least in my experience, is that the more practice you get the better you become at carrying out this alteration in a seamless and invisible manner. Most alterations to the spindle hole are minimal. I have found in many cases that part of the actual paper label has extended over the hole and that has caused the record to rotate eccentrically. The fix is quite simple in this case. My alterations to spindle holes are neat and look exactly like they should. There is no need to make a 'dog's dinner' of a spindle hole to achieve concentricity. You will, however, make mistakes initially when you start this so it is always best to start on a record that is dispensable and unimportant to you. The other option is to buy nothing but Japanese pressed vinyl but that is impractical since nothing was pressed to vinyl there after 1988 or so.

Mike Mettler's picture
As a, er, somewhat reluctant "hole puncher" myself, I'm curious as to exactly how you do it, Eugene. Mind sharing some of your methodology with me/us?
volvic's picture

So glad AnalogPlanet has Michael Trei on board for reviews; I can't think of a better person on all things analog. I love the idea of this tool but wonder how easy and effective it would be to align a record on a suspended table like an LP12.

Mike Mettler's picture
Wholly agreed! I've worked with our man Trei for a number of decades now (mainly over in the S&V universe), and we will be having him review analog gear here on AnalogPlanet on a regular basis.
Lazer's picture

Michael Trei has joined Analogplanet. HR, SG(Steve Guttenberg) and MT are the 3 Amigos and they are all great at what they do!

James Kelly's picture

$6000.00?? Ridiculous I purchased one on Amazon for $60.00 with level. perfect.

_cruster's picture

Sure, of course you did.

eugeneharrington's picture

Hi Mike, Send me a PM at info@vinyllpcare.com and I'll send you a paper I have on it. It is basically a step by step instruction on what to do. I use a Round File rather than a Reamer and it works really well. The amount of 'alteration' that is needed on the correct part of the spindle hole is mostly very small and it is not even noticeable when done. I am picky about buying records from known bad plants and I pretty much stick with Optimal, Pallas, Record Industry, Vinyl Factory and Dublin Vinyl in Europe. In the U.S., Gotta Groove and RTI, in that order, are my favourite plants. I posted on another forum recently that a start up Irish pressing plant, Dublin Vinyl, in Glasnevin, Dublin presses the best spindle holes I have ever seen. They are totally concentric on both sides and the vinyl is as quiet as a tomb. The plant is using some of the newish Canadian WarmTone presses.

Mike Mettler's picture
Much appreciated! I will reach out via my gmail account, thx!!!
Trevor_Bartram's picture

I havn't bought a record since the mid 80s. Are off center records still a problem or is this for mainly old/used records?
With the sky high prices today I would hope it's mainly the latter.

Anton D's picture

Put a record on the platter, put a ring that matches the platter on top to center the record, and play.

Seems like we could solve this problem for the price of a platter ring made to match the platter....hundred bucks?

Rodan's picture

Of course, you'd like to have an LP that's both perfectly flat and perfectly centered. However, I don't see how DS Audio's ES 001 can function if you're turntable uses vacuum hold-down like mine does. It may be possible, but Mike's most excellent review seems to indicate that it would probably take a great deal of fiddling, some of which may result in the inability for the vacuum to function properly, depending on how off-centered the record.

My own experience is that vacuum hold-down has clear sonic advantages, but whether those advantages outweigh those of centering an LP is an open question.

Anton D's picture

This is a great example of what's up:


Stolen from Engine:

"Well, and regarding excentricity, you can pretty simply calculate the effect, as the speed deviation is directly proportional to the radius deviation. Typically one will tend to apply it to a playback radius of 100 mm, as that makes it easy to calculate and represents roundabout the middle of the LP playback area. So at 100 mm an excentricity of 0.2 mm would already mean a peak wow of +/- 0.2 % (or an RMS wow of that times 0.5^0.5 = ca. +/- 0.141 %). And due to the radius dependence with a playback radius range of ca. 60 to 145 mm one can of course also conclude, that the effect has to be almost 2.42 times as bad near the end of the record than at the beginning."

The thread I got that from....


rich d's picture

to a hundred dollar problem. Are you sure the government didn't invent it?

RG's picture

Whatever imaginary “problem” you’re throwing $6,000 at, the real problem, at least one that, you know, you can actually hear, is the leftover manufacturing debris that is left on new vinyl these days. At prices reaching $40/LP, we all get to enjoy endless pops and clicks on our $50k rigs. What a joke.

JohnVF's picture

At what point do you just acknowledge that the LP format's flaws are part of its charm (and sound)? I'm not what you'd call a penny-pincher in this hobby and I laughed out loud when I read the price. If you ever took care of every one of the issues you all seem to review fixes for, endlessly, here..you'd have what amounts to DSD playback. The limitations of the medium, the crosstalk especially, but everything else as well, is WHY it sounds like it does. Its tangible, flawed, and fun, and my GOD does this site ever do everything possible to take out that last part.

bassrome's picture

What does reaming the spindle hole of your LP do to the resale value? If the buyer doesn't have this dingus they're up the proverbial creek.

purrecs's picture

Cursed with perfect pitch, concentric pressings are my biggest annoyance. On my Technics 1200, I place a couple of turntable mats on the platter to clear the spindle, then raise the tonearm base adjustment. Spinning the disc at 33 1/3 (even 45s and 78s), I place my fingernail just in front of where the cartridge normally hovers over the groove. Carefully, I bump the record edge until the grooves no longer sway back and forth. At that stage I usually record the side onto a flash drive or memory card, later to be de-clicked using one of three audio restoration programs in my PC. The record then goes back into its archival sleeve, its hole undamaged by a rat-tail file.