The history of Ortofon can be traced back to 1918 when two Danish Engineers - Axel Petersen (1887-1971) and Arnold Poulsen (1889-1952) - began their experiments to synchronise sound with pictures on film. On the 9th of October 1918, Axel Petersen and Arnold Poulsen founded the Electrical Phono Film Company with a few capable and foresighted businessmen who would support the organization financially.
Their aim was to explore the possibility of high-class recording and developing one of the first synchronized sound film systems in the world. Under primitive conditions, the two Danish engineers and their small staff had to solve a number of what were considered insuperable problems.
The invention of electrical recording by an Edison Phonograph and sound reproduction through earphones were the first conquests. The team had to engineer most of electrical and mechanical components itself and owing to the insufficient sensitivity of the film, the team had huge challenges in the field of optical and photographic recording.
After 5 years, however, the first film was produced. On the 12th of October, 1923, the first sound film recorded indoors was shown at the Palace Theatre in Copenhagen. It was the first real sound film, recording using the “variable area” method. For the first time the name of System Petersen and Poulsen was on film strip. The name was later to be known all over the world.
At that time two films were run simultaneously - one with pictures and one with sound (i.e. it was necessary to synchronize the two machines). Nevertheless the first performance was met with enthusiasm, and it became the method for presentations in the whole of Europe while licenses were established for this technology in many other countries. Later in the twenties the System Petersen and Poulsen was also adopted by the largest American film productions. By that time, the problem of synchronization of picture and sound on the same strip was solved. This became a common requirement on the part of the producers to simplify the copying and editing of the films.
Also within this field the two Danish engineers succeeded in achieving eminent results. Several of the cameras and recording heads constructed then for cinema projectors, were still employed as late as 1968. Additionally a number of other appliances, such as condenser microphones, dynamic compressors, oscilloscopes, optical instruments, amplifiers for reproduction and studio equipment with mixing and editing tables were developed.
The fact that improvements can be noticed without any advance publicity was certified at a Danish premier in 1944. The press wrote that the film was boring but the sound surprisingly good. Electrical Fono Film A/S had constructed a new dynamic compressor which was used for the first time; later this compressor was patented.
Also the disc recording industry had been supplied with appliances by the Danish inventors. A new system of cutter head for the gramophone industry and the amplifier were developed in secrecy during WW II. The cutter head was revolutionary because the level of registration of the oscillations was raised from 5 kHz to 14 kHz. At the end of 1945 the Danish disc recording company “Tono” was able to cut records on the new equipment.
No existing pickup system, however, was able to reproduce so high a sound quality that this cutter head produced. So the pioneering Ortofon mono pickup and pickup arm were developed in 1948 and then patented in many countries. In a few years it became world famous.
In 1946 the old name of the company was changed to FonoFilm Industry A/S and in 1947 Ortofon A/S was founded as a trading company under FonoFilm Industry A/S umbrella. This was done as a consequence of a considerable increase in demand from the whole world. At the same time ORTOFON was registered as a trade mark for all the products of the company and a guarantee for imported articles was made.
The name Ortofon is derived from the Greek words “orto” (meaning "correct") and “fon” (meaning "sound").
A strong and efficient cooperation between Ortofon A/S and other high-class industrial undertakings within the acoustical line had developed a comprehensive world trade attended to by 36 agencies and many technical and commercial undertakings. The severe demand of high-quality products of Mr. Petersen and Mr. Poulsen dating from the infancy of the sound film was still such a decisive factor that all kinds of raw materials were controlled before they were put into production.
As previously mentioned, Ortofon started making cutter heads for record manufacturing companies in 1945 and they became adopted by companies all over the world.
From being a development laboratory for tone films (the Petersen and Poulsen System) Ortofon became an important force in fostering the gramophone industry, among other things by developing a Moving Coil cutter head for mono cartridges which was followed by various models of mono as well as stereo cutter heads. Ortofon used its market knowledge and technology from its renowned cutter head production to make very fine cartridges.
In 1959 the first SPU - Stereo Pick Up came to the market. 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. Mr. Robert Gudmandsen took a principal part in developing this cartridge.
The first magnetic cartridge, the M-15, constructed on the VMS (variable magnetic shunt) generating system was launched in 1969.
A New Moving coil lightweight model, MC 20, was introduced in 1977 and two years later the MC 20 MK II came. The MC 20 MK II became the first cartridge to be implemented with the patented Wide Range Damping System which insured very high tracking ability. Both models were awarded by the Japanese Grand Prix Committee.
Since the 80s, the development of Moving Coil cartridges became highly influenced by major technological progresses with regard to materials and processing technology:
- Very strong magnetic materials like Samarium Cobalt and Neodymium almost decimated sizes of magnetic circuits and even increased cartridge output data at the same time.
- New thin cantilever rods made from very hard Sapphire, Boron and Ruby mounted with exceptional new diamonds profiles were implemented as well as extremely pure Japanese copper and silver wires for MC-coils.
Processing technology for molding complex structures in either ceramic or pure metals, based on the special Metal Injection Molding process, created completely new design possibilities and has successively been introduced by Ortofon suppliers in either ceramic, stainless steel or pure iron parts. In 2004 Ortofon started using a wood-powder resin material for new SPU-G housings as well as for the Rondo models.
At the end of 2008 Ortofon introduced a completely new model that was designed in cooperation with the Danish Technological Institute. The SPU 90th Anniversary phono cartridge was thought as a celebration of a significant milestone in the Ortofon history and was the result of a research spanning the Ortofon technological heritage and the emergence of new manufacturing technology called Rapid Manufacturing.
As the company has evolved from its roots in making movie sound tracks to developing precision components and unique compounds for technical rubber, one aspect of its operations has remained constant: the culture of excellence.
Ortofon has developed significantly over the last 10 years and currently is in a phase where the use of the advanced technologies has opened for exciting new business opportunities within the Medical industry. This growth is driven, among other things, by investment in the new technology and new products.
View Ortofon Timeline and find more information about Ortofon vintage and current products >>
Acoustics, materials, technology and micro-mechanics are key competences in the technological process of Ortofon.
Reflecting our extensive experience in industrial design and technological know-how, we have become the global leader in the manufacture and supply of phono cartridges. The first moving coil phono cartridge was developed in 1948, since then more than 300 different phono cartridges have been developed and manufactured with our latest being MC Anna Diamond Exclusive phono cartridge.
We benefit from being established in Denmark, a country recognized for its strong tradition in acoustics and its wealth of other high-end manufacturers, who make hearing aids and acoustic measurement equipment, in addition to all aspects of high-end audio.
Ortofon has been awarded numerous distinctions for both sound quality and design throughout its extensive history.
Electric motors, microphones, loudspeakers, and transformers are only a few of the inventions that are based on this remarkable discovery, impacting our daily lives in a way that makes it hard to imagine life without.
Ortofon specialises in development and manufacturing of phono cartridges, bone conductors and pulse simulators, all of which are electrical transducers. An electrical transducer is a device which converts one type of energy into another, such as electrical energy into mechanical or acoustical and vice versa. The fundamental principle of the transducer operation is based on the discovery of electromagnetism. Ortofon phono cartridges also follow the law of electromagnetism, as discovered by H.C.Oersted. Continue reading >>
Companies that master the frontiers of emerging technologies will dominate their industries. Once again Ortofon demonstrates the company’s technological prowess and persistent pursuit of innovation, having acquired an advanced automated line for Moving Magnet styli assembly.
Making the replacement styli using automatic assembly allows for more precise component assembly, uniform industrial manufacturing process and better acoustic performance of the product.
<< watch this amazing video: it not only shows the automated production process of the 2M Red replacement stylus step-by-step, but also reveals the complexity of the stylus design and assembly.