I get asked a lot about vintage tonearms. The most asked about arms are the SME, followed by Grace and Infinity. Though all three companies made some very good to great tonearms, one of the great audio values on the market are the LMF-1 and LMF-2 made by ADC.
Peter Pritchard was the main innovator behind the ADC line. Through the 70’s to 90’s, they sold phono cartridges, tonearms, turntables, and loudspeakers. (And some other peripheral equipment.) Most, if not all, were innovative in some way and well reviewed. The ADC cartridges, with extremely high compliance, could be considered their biggest selling line. Since few low mass tonearms were being made at that time, Pritchard designed and sold the LMF-40 tonearm. This arm was continually refined, and I would argue the LMF-1 and LMF-2 were at the apex of their tonearm development.
Like the Infinity Black Widow that has a huge following, the LMF-1 and -2 used a carbon fiber armtube for low mass to high tensile strength. However, unlike the Black Widow, the ADCs do not suffer from a high breakage rate. Unlike the SME 3009s and the Grace 707 and 747s, also low mass arms, the ADC does not suffer as many missing or broken parts. These replacement part costs can add up quickly. In my own ADC LMF buying experience over the last 20 years, I’ve always purchased complete arms that were fully functional.
In terms of wiring, though all of these arms feature internal wiring that is now decades old, the ADC at least uses a common female DIN configuration which allows the easy replacement to one of the dozens of DIN cable replacements available. When buying a vintage SME 3009 or Grace 707/727, that is not so simple. The SME uses its own proprietary connector (one of the weakest points of the arms design, imo) and the Grace uses a male DIN cable, which is harder to source with much fewer options than the female configuration.
Over the past two decades, I have paired the LMF-1 and -2 with Shure V-15s, Grace F-9s, Ortofon OM20/30s and Micro Acoustics 2002e and 282 with fantastic results. Of course, one could argue the ADC XLX and QLM offer the very best performance, as the arms were designed with those in mind.
Amazingly, as compared with the SME, Grace, and Black Widow arms mentioned above, the ADC are still available at very reasonable prices. As of this writing, an LMF-2 sold on eBay for under $300. The LMF-2 is the removeable headshell version, and I also noted when I was checking out the sold auctions, that a couple of companies are now offering aftermarket headshells for this model! How cool is that?!
In closing, if you are in the market for a vintage arm, I cannot recommend high enough that you add the ADC LMFs to your search list. More info here.