A Vintage Classic

What is
SPU cartridges?

60 years product story

Ortofon sound

No other company has ever retained a phono cartridge model in their product range for so many years. The SPU was used by early broadcasting companies among whom the Ortofon brand name was already well known from the first moving coil system - the Ortofon mono system in the small black A-housing. The so-called “Ortofon sound“ became synonymous with the sound from the SPU at an early stage.

From cartridges to pick-ups

Setting the standard

The term "SPU" stands for "stereo pick-up" as phono cartridges were called "pick-ups" in the 1950s and 1960s. 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.

Mastering precision sound

The Ortofon
sound legacy

The SPU cartridge stands as the cornerstone of what has come to be known as the distinctive "Ortofon sound." Launched in 1960, the SPU marked a revolutionary moment in audio technology. What makes the SPU enduring is not
only its creation, but the patent application from 1960, encapsulating key elements that continue to define its design and influence the production of moving coil (MC) cartridges today.

The SPU's patent is a testament to its ingenuity, covering essential aspects such
as the square armature, retention wire with a flexing point, rubber suspension,
and the brass brushing in the pole cylinder. These components not only formed
the foundation of the original patent but continue to be integral to the SPU's
design, shaping its sound profile and influencing the production of MC

The one and only SPU

The cartridge
to survive all others

Mr. Gudmandsen, one of Ortofon’s then leading engineers, took a principal part in developing this cartridge. 10 years before, 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 musical sound reproduction and the touch of a genius enabled him to create THE CARTRIDGE to survive all others.

Mr. Gudmandsen on the right and then-CEO of Ortofon Mr. Rohmann on the left.

Innovating Analog Sound

Ortofon's impact on recording standards

Parallel to this development, Ortofon developed a stereo cutter head for mastering records, and the Ortofon expertise and development activities in making transducers for analog reproduction equipment made new standards for the area in those days.

The crucial role of the retention wire

Crafting timeless sound

The manufacturing of the retention wire with flexing point was based on Ortofons
groundbreaking nickel-plating process. This very fundamental component was essential for suspending and securing the oscillating parts in the first SPU’s and today it remains a key component in the production of MC cartridges.

As a result, the SPU has not only endured the test of time but has become a guiding force, not just for Ortofon's signature sound but also for the broader
landscape of high-quality audio. The unique combination of patented elements has left an indelible mark on the way MC cartridges are crafted today, ensuring
that the legacy of the SPU lives on in every note and nuance of the
"Ortofon sound”.