Are you looking for the best stethoscope?
Are you dating a nurse?
Is your child finally in medical school? Are you a practicing clinician who has been disappointed with the stethoscope you own now?
You are at the right place. Whether you are buying a stethoscope for personal use or a gift, We have got you covered.
Your occupation matters and people who work in health services rely on their stethoscopes and need high-quality devices. Your stethoscope is an essential tool that helps you provide expert care to your patients.
You need a good stethoscope for your medical practice. It must be reliable and have all the best features while staying budget-friendly.
Finding the best stethoscope can be difficult with the range of brands all claiming, their product is the best of them all on the market.
To help you with your decision, we have examined the research and compiled a detailed list of options that also includes reviews from medical professionals.
How to Choose a Stethoscope
If you’re on this site, you’re obviously looking to buy a stethoscope.
But a lot of people here may not know what to look for in a stethoscope?
What are the qualities that are considered good or bad?
Stethoscope Hat is it that truly impacts the performance of the device and in turn, affects your performance at your job?
Buying a stethoscope was never so easy. Let’s talk about it.
Below is a discussion on each quality I look for in a stethoscope.
- Sound quality, flexibility and versatility
- Diagnostics for a variety of patient populations
- Ambient noise reduction technology for excellent sound quality in noisy environments
- Diaphragm size should match your patient population
- A double-sided chest piece gives you flexibility
- Durability to withstand daily wear and tear which is important when looking for the quality stethoscope for nurses and other professionals
- Teaching stethoscopes have two headsets so the instructor and student can listen to body sounds simultaneously.
Obviously, nobody wants to run around working with a piece of crap visually. If you’re going to use this thing daily and be seen with it, you want to represent yourself as someone who cares about his or her job.
Think about how far this impact can go. It can change the way your superiors think about you and change your chance for advancement and promotion.
I’m not kidding! So at very least, buy a stethoscope that looks good.
This device is going to be hanging off your neck and sticking into your ears. You don’t want it to be ridiculously heavy. Even if you don’t wear it around your neck, but put it in a stethoscope holder when not in use, you don’t want it pulling on your waistband either.
A good weight is around 6 ounces, which about 180 grams. Just above or below that is considered good. Anything much higher is just annoying and much lower and it’s probably made out of plastic.
One of the metrics related to stethoscopes that directly affects the way it functions is the width of the diaphragm. The sensitivity grows as the diameter of the diaphragm grows.
The cheaper and lower quality stethoscopes have diaphragms around 1.38 inches, which is about 3.5 centimeters. The good ones come in right around 1.7 inches or 4.3 centimeters.
Length of the Stethoscope
Now, when I mention the length of a stethoscope, I’m talking about the measurement from the earpieces all the way down to the bell when stretched out fully.
This matters because, if a stethoscope is not long enough, you’ll find yourself bending over constantly, or getting too close and breaking the personal bubble of your patient.
Plus, it’s just an annoyance to not work freely without contorting yourself to get the basics of your job done. You may think the longest one is the best, but that’s not always the case either because it’ll be dangling around everywhere when not in use.
The right length is 27 inches or around 69 centimeters. Too short is about 25 inches and too long is 30 inches plus.
Other Items to Consider
You want to consider the material being used in the construction of the stethoscope, whether or not you can replace certain pieces as they become used, and some other small considerations.
But the magic is, if you follow the stats I talked about above, the rest of it will fall into place without you having to bother about it. I can tell you right now that the best one on the market is the Littmann Cardiology IV, which already covers these metrics perfectly. It’s the new standard for everyone else to follow.
You won’t go wrong picking that bad boy up, but take your time and look at the other companies and models out there as well. Best of luck in your adventure (or take the short-cut and get the Littmann)
Best Stethoscope Reviews & Comparison
While there isn’t really a “best” stethoscope that fits everybody’s needs, because different people have different needs, there are some clear winners when it comes to choosing the best quality stethoscope for your own needs.
So, what is the best?
Use our comparison chart below to quickly check out the best brand of the stethoscope and compare different models and their features.
1. Littmann Lightweight II – Simple but Effective
The 3M Littman Stethoscope Lightweight II S.E. is a great buy no matter how you look at it.
Need a stethoscope that simply works? Done.
Need one that is easy to work with? That’s covered as well.
Need one that you can afford? No problem.
There really isn’t any reason not to buy it. In fact, it is such a steal that it is recommended for those looking for a great entry-level option. The chest piece is shaped to make moving it around easier with any bandages, cuffs, and wires that might be in the way.
3M Littman Lightweight II S.E stethoscope is really light and manageable for any level of medical staff and of course the concerned, cautionary parent.
Also, the diaphragm on one side of the chest piece can be tuned to fit every medical situation, making this stethoscope preferable to others on the market.
It can be used for gauging the blood pressure of a patient as well as listening to a large number of bodily sounds for assessment and diagnosis.
The Littmann tunable diaphragm secures a lot of necessities and bonuses like reliable and undisrupted acoustics, the ability to change the settings to fit the situation, and even saving valuable time to spend on the patient instead.
The resin tubing along it can fold to fit comfortably in a pocket to be transported without lying across the neck unsecured. The stethoscope is equipped with Snap Tight Soft-Sealing Ear tips that successfully create an acoustic seal inside the ears. This means that bodily sounds can be heard without any interruptions from the rest of the world.
2. Littmann Cardiology IV – Editor Choice
The Littmann Stethoscope Cardiology IV is one of the most purchased and highest rates stethoscopes on the market today, and for a good reason.
Littmann stethoscopes are used by cardiologists, medical students, and doctors around the world and provides a high quality at an affordable price tag. This stethoscope is known for having a loud clear sound and is quite versatile.
This is a perfect stethoscope with excellent built-in quality, loud and clear sound, tunable diaphragms on both sides, and it is appropriate both for adults and pediatric patients.
Durability and versatility are features of the Littmann Cardiology IV stethoscope. It comes with diaphragms on both sides of the chest piece out of which the small diaphragm can be removed to convert this part into an unlocked bell to capture low-frequency sounds.
Cardiologists, pediatricians and medical students commonly use this stethoscope to listen to heart and lung sounds. With its unique tunable diaphragm, this stethoscope makes it easy to switch between bell and diaphragm modes by giving a simple pressure change on its chest piece.
With a 43 mm wide diaphragm, 27 inch length and non chill rim, this stethoscope is a popular choice among health care professionals. It provides good value for your investment and is highly recommended for everyone.
The reason this model is so popular among cardiologists and doctors alike is because of the high-quality parts and the full set of features such as:
- High quality loud and clear sound.
- The dual-sided chest piece provides superior auscultation in both adults and children.
- It comes with two tunable diaphragms that can be tuned by the amount of pressure you apply and capture high and low frequency sounds with ease.
- The pediatric side of the diaphragm can easily be converted into a bell, using the non-chill bell sleeve, to accurately hear the lower frequencies a diaphragm doesn’t quite capture.
- It has a 2-in-1 tube design, which helps to eliminate the noise interference that comes from the tube rubbing upon itself.
- The headset and earpieces are angled just right to meet the angle of the ear canal just right.
- Non-chill rim weighs 180 grams, 27 inches long, and the diaphragm is 43 mm wide.
3. Littmann Master Classic II – Recommended for all Professional
The 3M Littmann Stethoscope Master Classic II is also a great pick.
It is one of the best in the world as it is extremely easy to use and great at doing its job as well.
Anyone in the medical field knows how important it is to have a stethoscope that does the job and does it quickly, but how hard it is to find one without sacrificing the other.
This stethoscope requires no compromise from any angle, as it offers everything that you could possibly need.
The diaphragm is tunable without the process of removing, indexing, and replacing.
You get the correct assessment every time by being able to customize the diaphragm to fit the equipment to the situation and with less time and effort on such a minute task. Furthermore, the chest piece has only one side, so you don’t have to waste time tediously switching back and forth.
This stethoscope is used by a variety of different people, from students to certified doctors and nurses to the average, everyday mother, to complete all manners of audio-related medical procedures, including studying heartbeats or just listening to the bodily sounds that the receiver is making to make an accurate assessment and diagnosis.
To make things even better, the headset is one of the few that actually lines up correctly and comfortably with the ears, so you can actually hear sounds properly. Also, the rim and diaphragm are resistant to chilling to prevent causing patient discomfort.
The Clarity of sounds are similar to the Littmann Classic II SE but it lacks the double-sided chest piece. It is a bit heavier at 160 grams and provides a 44 cm diaphragm. With excellent comfort and all the other features of the Littmann, it is an excellent stethoscope but comes in at a slightly higher price point.
4. Littman Classic II – Good at Adults & Pediatric
The Littmann Classic II is a good stethoscope that comes highly recommended by doctors, nurses, medical students, and EMTs around the globe.
It is not quite as advanced as the Cardiology IV, but unless you are a cardiologist, this model will give you an excellent quality sound and all of the features you really need. Great for medical students, nurses, and home use.
This is one of the best acoustically sensitive stethoscopes available. It is lightweight (135 grams), has a quality tunable diaphragm, provides loud, clear sounds, and has comfortable earpieces.
If you have been searching for a stethoscope for blood pressure that delivers quality at a reasonable cost, the Littmann Classic II is the ideal solution.
Reviews support our recommendation. On Amazon, it has good positive reviews many buyers giving it 5-star reviews show that your medical colleagues overwhelmingly appreciate the quality of this stethoscope. It is durable and is also available in multiple colors.
Just like the Cardiology III, this stethoscope comes with all of the features you will need if you are not a cardiologist such as:
- High quality loud and clear sound.
- Available in many different colors.
- Dual-sided chest piece with a high acoustic sensitivity
- A tunable diaphragm that responds to changes in pressure
- Latex-free materials
- Non-chill rim for patient comfort
5. ADC Adscope 603 – A True Competitor of Littmann World
If you are looking for a high-quality stethoscope, but don’t need all of the extra features that a doctor or cardiologist would need, then the ADC ADSCOPE 603 Stainless Steel Stethoscope is just what you need.
At a lower price point than the previous two Littmann models we’ve covered, the ADA ADSCOPE will give you the basics at an affordable price. It is highly recommended for nursing students and parents.
Not quite as functional as the Littmann stethoscopes, it is still a good purchase for the value-conscious professional since the price is a little lower.
The sound quality is second to Littmann and with a heavier chest piece, it is slightly less comfortable. A lifetime warranty is also a great feature that makes it popular with health services professionals.
While this particular stethoscope doesn’t have quite as rich of a feature set as the Littmanns above, it has everything a medical student, nurse, or parent could want for basic heart monitoring such as.
- Stainless steel construction
- High quality loud and clear acoustic
- Ad soft ear tips for maximum comfort
- Backed by a lifetime warranty
- Combination bell/diaphragm chest piece
- Non-chill bell for patient comfort
Best Stethoscope For Paramedic Or EMT
Paramedics and EMTs are of course going to need to have a good, reliable and trustworthy stethoscope especially since they are some of the first people to deal with patients during an emergency.
They might not do the jobs of a doctor or nurse but they play a vital role in helping a patient as they perform the basic checks but that is vital. If you are a paramedic or EMT, you do need to have a good quality stethoscope.
You are dealing with people and they are in your hands, so you never want to make a mistake or miss anything. That is why a good stethoscope is important. A stethoscope for a paramedic might be less costly than that of a doctor in the emergency room but they still play a vital part.
With the best stethoscope for EMT’s, it will become a vital tool that can help to save the life of your patient as well as help you while you diagnose. Of course, you will be traveling in ambulances as well as be outside and at times in noisy conditions which means that you need to choose a stethoscope that excludes external noises.
Your stethoscope needs to be able to reduce any noises which may cause distraction so that you can hear the heartbeat of a patient. The 3M Littmann Classic III meets all the criteria needed by emergency services professionals. This stethoscope reduces ambient noise while amplifying patient sounds.
6. 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope
As you might have guessed, the Littmann Classic III is quite light but it does offer some of the very best technology. This does have that perfect balance between quality as well as affordability as this a great unit but it is also not too expensive.
The Littmann Classic III may not even cost more than hundreds of dollars which is of course very inexpensive. This is one of the least costly stethoscopes a paramedic can choose from but it still offers amazing quality.
This stethoscope does offer some of the very best and clear acoustical capabilities which are very important especially when it comes to picking up any sounds which might be heard to hear.
Of course, this stethoscope is going to be very light which is very important when it comes to transporting these from one location to another. The stethoscope is going to be one of the very best for paramedics as well as EMT’s.
The Littmann Classic III can pick up very low-frequency sounds which is of course vital. The reason why this is possible is because of the new tune-able diaphragm. This is truly going to be a special and one of the very best units for any paramedic who deals with taking blood pressure checks and checking on a patient’s heartbeat also. It’s a fantastic stethoscope.
Best Veterinary Stethoscope
Veterinary stethoscopes probably are not one of the most sought after items on the market today; however, they are still just as important than ever for vets and those caring for animals. With animals, they are quite different from humans as some of their needs and medical checks are quite different and they do have at times their own individual needs. That is why for veterinaries, they do need to find the best stethoscopes for animals.
Is there really a difference between using an animal stethoscope and a human stethoscope? Yes, there are significant differences and a human stethoscope cannot and should not be used on an animal as for animals, it requires a dedicated veterinary stethoscope.
Vets work on all sizes of animals from tiny to huge, so need a stethoscope that is strong and versatile, yet sensitive enough to handle sounds from the smallest animals. Veterinarians also handle regular examinations as well as emergency situations.
Most vets prefer the Littmann Master Classic II Veterinary for its durability and audio clarity. Noise reduction is directly in the tubing. It also comes with a special procedures adapter made for children but can work well with smaller animals.
7. 3M Littmann Master Classic II Veterinary Stethoscope
This veterinary stethoscope does look to be one of the very best animal stethoscopes on the market today. This has been highly rated on several of the online retailers as well as being a very popular choice for many vets.
It has been given five stars from many big retailers who are of course very impressive as the ratings are by actual consumers who have used the stethoscope so that is very encouraging.
The Littmann Master Classic II Veterinary stethoscope is not too much costly, as this can cost around a hundred dollars – it might all depend on where you shop but it is around this price nonetheless.
With this stethoscope, however it has been designed especially for easy transportation; and easy portability is a highlight feature of this unit. It is very easy to move the veterinary office to an outside location and it can be a perfect little tool to use.
This does come with a single-sided chest piece but that can offer some of the very best acoustics and it can almost cut out external noises. It is even lightweight which is of course important but comfortable to use as the headset is angled which is a beautiful unique little feature. The stethoscope can be used with any animal.
Best Pediatrics Stethoscope
If you are a doctor or nurse who deals with patients under the age of eighteen, then a pediatric stethoscope is important to choose from. Most people believe any stethoscope can be used on anyone which is almost right in adults but when it comes to younger patients, especially under eighteen, different stethoscopes work best.
With a pediatric stethoscope it does come with a double sided chest piece and most of the time, the stethoscope is smaller so that it works on children’s smaller bodies.
What is more, it is also very important to choose the best especially when it comes to dealing with children.
8. MDF Acoustica Deluxe Lightweight Dual Head Stethoscope
The MDF Acoustica Deluxe stethoscope looks very elegant but child friendly which is good as young children can be a little scared when they see some medical equipment.
This has been designed to be smaller than other stethoscopes which means it can be used exclusively on children however, it still offers high quality technology.
You will get the best high level of auscultation and it is sensitive to help pick up some low frequency sounds also.
The double sided chest piece does allow you the ability to pick up very faint noises and even though it’s reduced in size, it still boasts high quality.
This can be portable and very easy to move from one location to another and it is child friendly; what is more, the stethoscope hasn’t been made in any way from latex which removes the possibilities of allergic reactions.
This stethoscope is one of the most rated throughout the medical professional as well as on many online retailers.
This MDF stethoscope is truly remarkable as it has been able to keep all of that high quality and high standard feel even though the price is considerably less than others.
Also, this is smaller than other stethoscopes and many wouldn’t believe it would be as good as or better than standard sized stethoscopes but it is. There is also the rose gold finish to it which is really kid friendly and it will cost around one hundred dollars depending on where you shop.
How to Use a Stethoscope?
You are here that means you are in the market to purchase a stethoscope. But are you sure you know how to use it once you receive it? Maybe you already have one and have been using it wrong for years, even decades! You can’t be sure without reading this guide.
So let’s have a quick chat so we are all on the same page.
Using a Stethoscope Properly
If you’re going to use a stethoscope, at least make sure you’re doing it right or you won’t be able to assess how good yours stethoscope really is, which could end up with you leaving inaccurate reviews across the internet! You want to do it right so you are extracting the best performance out of your scope.
Inserting the Headset
When you stick this bad boy in your ears, you want the headset situated so that the angle of the ear pieces is sticking forward, which means away from your face. This will make sure the ear pieces are angled into your ear canals and not digging into the back and bottom of them.
The main thing about wearing them backwards, besides the pain, is that you won’t get a proper seal and the acoustical waves which represent the sounds may leak out or be blocked totally from you even hearing them.
To reiterate, the curvature of the chest piece should be situated so the ear pieces are aimed forwards towards your face, not backwards towards the back of your head.
Ear tip Sizes
You want to use the proper ear tip size for two reasons: to reduce pain and most importantly to make sure you’re receiving the best acoustical performance of your stethoscope. You want soft tips to create a seal for the sound and to provide comfort.
But you want them to fill your ear canal without causing pain, so don’t use any that are too thick. If they are too small they won’t seal well though. You’ll know when they are right and most stethoscopes will provide small and large options. Just try both.
Fix Any Sound Leaks and Seals
Make sure, first off that there are no obstructions in your ear pieces from tossing your stethoscope in your bag, pocket, car seats, etc.
You don’t want lint or paper or dog hair inside the chest piece or tubing or you won’t be able to hear clearly. Also, make sure the tubing in sealed to the chest piece and the bell or you’ll be leaking sound out and allowing unwanted sounds in.
Make Sure the Bell is Open
Some stethoscopes let you rotate the bell to close or open it. This lets you block sounds while keeping the stethoscope in your ears for the moment. If you can’t hear any sounds, make sure the bell is aligned into the open position before assuming theirs anything else wrong going on!
Cleaning and Care
If you’re going to clean your stethoscope (you should!) use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes or cotton balls. Never dunk your stethoscope into the full on liquid solution.
If your tubing ultimately becomes stiff and rigid over the years, you might need to order a replacement. You can’t soften them up. They get stiff from being exposed to skin oils over time. It happens and is part of the deal.
If you follow the information above, you should be using your stethoscope properly. And you have the knowledge to correct anyone you see goofing up and wearing their stethoscope backwards! If you want more information, check out FAQ.
Answers to Common Questions about Stethoscope
It is natural for you to raise several questions about this purchase, especially when you have no background or experience in the medical field.
To ease your anxiety and to provide you ample assistance, I answered some of the common questions asked about stethoscopes.
1. What Is A Cardiology Stethoscope?
Cardiology stethoscope, also referred to as cardiac stethoscope, is a special type of stethoscope. It is designed with features which enable it to perform superior functions among the others. I know you must be confused and curious as well if there are other types of stethoscope in the market.
To give you a brief explanation, let’s check the next question and determine the different stethoscopes.
2. How Is A Cardiology Stethoscope Different From A Regular Stethoscope?
Generally, a stethoscope is an essential medical instrument used for the amplification of the sounds coming from the different parts of the body. These include the heart, lungs and abdomen. This function can be expected from both a regular and a cardiology stethoscope.
One major difference between the two is the chest piece. The chest piece of a regular stethoscope has a bell and a diaphragm. The bell is for sounds with low frequency, while the diaphragm is for those that are high. Instead of having a bell and a diaphragm, most cardiology stethoscopes feature a tunable diaphragm on both sides.
Would you like to know the benefits of a tunable stethoscope?
If so, let’s check out question #3 and discuss it.
3. What Are The Benefits Of Having A Tunable Diaphragm?
With a tunable diaphragm, the examiner does not have to remove the chest piece from the patient in order to listen for high and low frequency sounds. Low frequency sounds are heard louder with a tunable diaphragm than with a regular bell.
Since tunable diaphragms are present on both sides of the cardiology stethoscope’s chest piece, the large side can be used for adult and the small side can be used for pediatric or thin patients. This spares you from buying two different stethoscopes for these two populations of patients.
4. What Are The Other Basic Parts Of A Stethoscope?
Aside from the chest piece, there are three other basic parts of a stethoscope. The first is the pair of ear pieces. These are the ones which you fit into your ears.
Second is the pair of ear tubes. These ear tubes are responsible for attaching the ear pieces to the stethoscope’s main body.
The last basic part is the tubing. The tubing connects the chest piece to the ear tube. Here is a link to an illustration of the mentioned parts I know you want to know more so on our next question let’s talk about the great components of a stethoscope.
5. What Makes A Good Stethoscope?
The first thing that you need to consider is the fit of the ear pieces. Ear pieces are the part of the stethoscope which you will actually wear. That is why you need to make sure that you are comfortable with how well they will fit inside your ears. Make sure that they also provide great seal and durability.
For the ear tubes, it is best to purchase a model which is made of stainless steel. This will guarantee better longevity. Finally, your stethoscope should feature tubing with appropriate length.
Make sure that the length is ample enough to make examination comfortable for you and your patient. Are you curios if the hearing ability using short or long stethoscope tubes are great? Let’s check on the answer that is found on our next question.
6. Will I Hear Better With Short Tubing?
This was believed before by earlier publications but recent laboratory testing revealed that the difference between the sound transmitted by short and long tubing is not extremely significant to be picked up by an average person.
Thus, tube length is no longer considered to affect the auscultation response. Just make sure that the length is long enough to comfortably drape your stethoscope around your neck. Ensure that it does not cause you the hassle of bending over just to reach the patient you are examining.
7. How Much Does a Stethoscope Cost?
The price of regular stethoscopes with outstanding quality ranges from $50 to $250. There are cheaper models available.
Since you will most likely get what you paid for, you need to be wary about purchasing more affordable models. If you are buying for educational purposes, it may be advisable to keep your budget below $200.
You can purchase your stethoscope at your local medical equipment store. You may also choose to shop conveniently at home through several online stores. Amazon lists their top-rated stethoscopes, including the cardiology types,
Now that you know where to purchase a high quality stethoscope, let’s talk about the companies that are well known for its stethoscopes on our next point.
9. What Are The Companies Known To Manufacture High-Quallty Stethoscope?
The most popular brand of stethoscope is Littmann. It has remained at the top of the business for several years now. Littmann Cardiology and Littmann Master Cardiology are among the series they offer. The Black Edition is also more popular compared to the others because of the sophistication it offers.
A good product review of the mentioned series can be found in these. Welch Allyn is another superior brand. Its Harvey Series is undoubtedly among the outstanding stethoscopes available now in the market. Sprague Rappaport is also a great choice.
Now that the list of questions is about to end, I’m sure you’d still like to know everything about stethoscope and let’s discuss it on our last and final question.
10. What Else Should I Look and Consider For My Stethoscope?
To make sure that you are making a sound choice, it is best to check the feedbacks and reviews about your selected stethoscope. This will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of each model. This will also allow you to confirm if your selected brand can meet your requirements.
Consider the warranty being offered by the manufacturer as well. You also need to check the availability of replacement parts to ensure that you can easily procure them if needed. Littmann is known for this aspect.
Now that some of the questions you share with others are answered, I expect that you are feeling less anxious about choosing the best stethoscope either for you or your loved one. You have definitely earned enough knowledge which can sufficiently help you procure the satisfactory item for your needs.
With the guidelines provided here, you are certainly several steps closer to owning your best stethoscopes.
When selecting your stethoscope, you need to be sure it will be dependable an audible no matter which medical career path you have chosen. Comfort and functionality are also important factors when making your selection.
Littmann stethoscopes are what you need to get the job done and get it done right. With several options to choose from to personalize your stethoscope, you can have audibility, dependability, functionality, comfort, and style, all in one.
Overall, Our personal recommendation goes to the Littmann Lightweight II SE. The high quality, comfort and performance are excellent features that make it a popular choice in the health industry. With excellent value it is a modest price and will work hard for you in your career.
The Littmann Cardiology IV is loved by senior physicians, anesthesiologists, and specialists. At a slightly higher price point, it provides exceptional quality sound for your diagnostic activities.
James Markham is a Blogger from Ohio USA. He is also a medical student of MBBS 2nd prof at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Read more about him
Last update on 2020-07-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API