The father and founder of the Ortofon large pickup program

Rober Gudmandsen: Mr SPU

He started his career as a radio engineer in a company where his father also worked, and he was later brought to Ortofon by Arnold Poulsen, one of the founders of Ortofon. Initially, Robert Gudmandsen worked on producing a dynamic amplifier for a local radio station. Later, he was engaged in the development and production of condenser microphones. In the 1940s, Mr. Gudmandsen had been deeply involved in the basic Ortofon Mono MC system. Ten years later, Robert Gudmandsen, one of Ortofon’s then leading engineers, took a principal part in developing the SPU cartridge.

50 years of work for Ortofon

Awarded by the Danish Queen

In 1992, Ortofon wanted to celebrate Mr. Gudmandsen because of his 50 years of work for Ortofon. At that time he had already got the nickname Mr. SPU in Japan because of his basic and innovative work on the mono moving coil and later stereo cartridges. Mr. Gudmandsen was also awarded by the Danish Queen Margrethe II, and Ortofon decided in his honor to launch the SPU Meister cartridge with Mr. Gudmandsen's signature printed in both A and G-models.

Then-CEO of Ortofon Eric Rohmann on the left awards the Danish Queen Margrethe II's merit medal to Robert Gudmandsen on the right.

The first Stereo Cartridge

In the years 1945-46, Ortofon started producing cutting heads for the mastering of new LP records. This led to the development and introduction of the first Moving Coil pick up in the world in 1948. That was the Ortofon Mono Pick-Up type AB, A, and C. Mr. Gudmandsen had been deeply involved in the basic Ortofon Mono MC system. At that time Mr. Gudmandsen of course did not have the elaborate facilities that now make up the company’s development. Nevertheless, his flair for a musical sound reproduction and the touch of a genius enabled him to create THE CARTRIDGE to survive all others. The first SPU came to the market in 1959 (the term "SPU" stands for "stereo pick-up" as phono cartridges were called "pick-ups" in the 1950s and 1960s).

The new stereo records

The original SPU

The original SPU was introduced in response to the demand for cartridges to reproduce the new stereo records. Based on Ortofon’s already 10 year old technology and experience in mono cartridges, the SPU immediately set the standard for professional and audiophile applications. Mr. Robert Gudmandsen took a principal part in developing this cartridge. This first stereo cartridge actually consisted of two parallel-mounted cartridges. The armature was connected to a common cantilever via an extremely complicated universal joint with sapphire bearings. (Universal joint design is no longer used in the production of Moving Coil phono cartridges). A key SPU feature is an integrated headshell, designed to mount directly into classic tonearms with detachable headshells - tonearms such as the SME 3009 and 3012, and other tonearms with similar "universal" tonearm mounts. Quite simply, there is no finer complement to a classic tonearm with a detachable headshell than an Ortofon SPU. The SPU also has a new elliptical needle, which gives a somewhat lower wear at approx. 4-g needle pressure.

The SPU Classic

In the early 1960s, Ortofon was the moving coil manufacturer with the SPU range comprising three models: E (elliptical stylus), G (standard SME-fit G-shell), and T (with or without step-up transformer). In the later 1960s, the popular SPU G-house model gradually evolved to become the popular SPU Classic, which was reintroduced in 1987 with some slight improvements.

The SPU Classic embodies the essence of the original Moving Coils and is known for its dynamic and powerful sound reproduction.

The SPU of 1959 pointed the way for the next 50 years of high-end cartridge design: a generator comprising two low-impedance coils, wound with very fine copper wire and crossed in such a way that the two walls of an LP's stereo microgroove could generate two discrete signals with maximum separation. Today, Ortofon has the world's largest program of pickups in all price ranges and all types, but despite the development of new pickups from Ortofon, a legion of music aficionados prefer the sound of the good old SPU.