DS Audio ES-001 Eccentricity Stabilizer

hfnedchoiceEver worried about off-centre LP pressings? Neither did we – until we tried DS Audio's mind-boggling ES-001 Eccentricity Detection (and correction) Stabiliser

As I stated in a recent column: I'll no longer be making apologies for high-end pricing. So £5500 is needed to acquire the DS Audio ES-001 Eccentricity Detection Stabiliser, a highly specialised device that allows for the correction of off-centre pressings. It is, I believe, the first attempt at resolving this issue since the demise of Nakamichi's TX-1000 and Dragon CT turntables (1982-1993), which tackled the issue mechanically using a sliding two-part platter [see Vintage Review, HFN Aug '16].

But let's get the 'problem' into context, for we are not talking about eccentricity so extreme you can see the headshell weaving left and right. DS Audio argues there's a limit to the accuracy that a vinyl disc can be pressed and centred, with variations typically measured in tens of microns (µm). It also provides examples of how such minuscule deviations can affect performance, not unlike wow and flutter.

Cracking The Nut
DS Audio claims an eccentricity of just 0.34mm (340µm) can be equivalent to ~0.15% W&F on the innermost grooves of an LP, which is rather poorer than the inherent speed stability of most high-quality turntables. As for the effects on cartridge and tonearm, any eccentricity, even invisible to the naked eye, could tax the stylus's tracking ability.

By way of solution, the ES-001 measures and then assists in your manual correction of any such 'wobble', the display guiding the user to reposition the LP so it is perfectly centred.

Unfortunately, unless you have a deck with an undersized or, better yet, removable spindle as per the Vertere designs [HFN Aug '22], this might involve enlarging the LP's hole. As extreme as this sounds, it is the only solution for some LPs, so the kit comes with a reaming tool for this purpose. Also supplied in the aluminium flight case is a hex wrench, for removing the cover to install two AA batteries (also supplied) and to access the USB update port.

This device is massive, so enthusiasts may be concerned about the possible negative effects of this 80x70mm (wxh) alloy/tungsten cylinder's 620g weight on their turntable's bearings. I certainly wouldn't want it to spend too much time on, say, a £295 featherweight deck, but anyone with £5500 to spend on this accessory will probably own a massively-constructed deck of a commensurately high sticker price. Also the ES-001 is removed when the job is done.

Smart Interface
A power button at the front turns on the top-mounted, touch-sensitive 2.4in display and the red LED detection lights, the former responding instantly to activity when in situ on the LP. This is a perfectly implemented interface, but it still requires careful reading of the owner's manual.

A two-part object, the ES-001's 6.2mm-thick lower section rotates with the LP, while the user holds the 238mm-tall upper section with access to the display. Place an LP on the platter, the ES-001 on the spindle, switch on while holding the upper section and tap the display to start the measuring cycle. The display is colour-coded, so at first you'll want to keep the manual to hand, ultimately learning to read the results without it.


The ES-001 comes with a precision reaming tool to enlarge the centre holes of any errant LPs...

In seconds, a red cross indicates off-centre status, changing to yellow, then green when the corrected LP is dead centre. This is abetted by the colour of the ring around the display, looking ominously like the crosshairs in Call Of Duty. The display, adjustable for brightness, also provides information about the degree of eccentricity. Actually centring an LP after measuring it is easier than it seems, even if you end up using the reaming tool.

sqnote Twist And Shout
Not to minimise one's need for an ES-001, to my dismay – or should that be delight? – I had to assess a number of LPs before finding any that triggered the device's red or yellow codes. New LP after new LP yielded a flow of perfectly, or near-perfectly centred discs within the preferred <20µm range. I couldn't find any errant One-Step or regular Mobile Fidelity, Speakers Corner, Impex or Intervention releases, while even new LPs from major labels were hard to fault.

I have to admit to a childlike glee when I put on a 7in single (small hole type, not the US large hole form) and it immediately lit up with 'The centre is OK' as if I earned a star in a pre-school class. That's the message you hope to elicit each time, but I wonder if some might suffer a pang of disappointment if the device doesn't indicate eccentricity? After all, paying this amount, you might subliminally want it to find some wildly off-centre pressings.

However, a few of my LPs did show improvement when centred – specifically heavy rock LPs, with violins, a cappella female vocals and the like – all gaining audibly in treble clarity and stereo focus. The former was sweeter and more precise, and I was also impressed by gains in transient attack with staccato trumpet volleys. Another surprise? Sibilance was reduced, even on LPs from the era of the dreaded Aphex Aural Exciter, which elevated the treble.

To my mind, the key beneficiaries of perfect centring would be musicians or any who possess perfect pitch, which leaves me out! Instead, it was the palpable improvement in stereo positioning that won me over. Oddly, it was a mono LP which impressed me most with these spatial gains, as the centring of the mono image was even greater after correcting the LP – and that was without using the preamp's mono button. As for two-channel spreads, coherence and image location were even more precise.


After measurement the estimated eccentricity is indicated on the colour display in µm. As the LP position is adjusted, the cross mark approaches the centre of the target and the colour changes from red to yellow to green

Batch Testing
Still, you might be wondering why I refuse to 'name and shame' specific LPs. That's because the ES-001 exposed a dilemma which will drive some of you crazy – that of the deviation between two or more copies of the same LP and pressing. In the past I've purchased a few 'identical' LPs precisely for A/B'ing turntables and cartridges but some turned out not to be so identical after all. I won't name them because my pressings might differ from yours, and this exercise is, after all, about inconsistency in manufacturing.

I can see some of you buying an ES-001, taking it to the record store and checking the copies in stock to secure the best – least eccentric – pressing. So the ES-001 will also be a test of LP vendor patience!

Hi-Fi News Verdict
There's no escaping the price-to-results ratio. This intrinsically places DS Audio's ES-001 in the most exclusive category of high-end audio acquisitions. If – and it's a huge 'if' – you have the ears and the gear, then you will find this as indispensable as a dust brush. I cannot stress enough how this intriguing device challenges the Law of Diminishing Returns, but if you live for vinyl and want to extract the best of your LPs, you'd better start saving.

Price £5500

Digital Stream Corporation
Kanagawa, Japan
Supplied by: Soundfowndations Ltd, Berks
0118 9814238