There are several stethoscope brands out there. Most of you probably know Littmann as being the lead-name in the world of stethoscopes. However A lot of you won’t have heard of “Vorfreude” or “ThinkLabs“.
First let’s take a look at the biggest of the stethoscope brands out there: Littmann.
Master Classic II
Diagnosis and Physical Assessment
Diagnosis and Physical Assessment
Double Sided/Machined Stainless Steel
Single Sided/Plated and Polished Alloy
Double Sided/Machined Stainless Steel
Double Sided/Machined Stainless Steel
Single Sided/Cast Stainless Steel
18 Colors/ 4 Finishes
9 Colors/ 2 Finishes
16 Colors/ 6 Finishes
7 Colors/ Stainless Steel Finish
7 Colors/ 3 Finishes
Diaphragm – tunable: hear different frequency sounds without turning over or repositioning
Redesigned Single-piece Tunable Diaphragm on each side of the Chestpiece
Two Tunable Diaphragms
Redesigned Single-piece Tunable Diaphragm on each side of the Chestpiece
Single Lumen Tubing
Single Lumen Tubing
Dual Lumen Tubing
Dual Lumen Tubing
Dual Lumen Tubing
150 grams, 27″/69cm
160 grams, 27″/69cm
175, 180 grams Available in 22” / 56cm and 27” / 69cm
167, 177 grams Available in 22” / 56cm and 27” / 69cm
175, 185 grams Available in 22” / 56cm and 27” / 69cm
Made in the USA
Littmann has quickly become the marketleader in stethoscopes. 3M bought the patent to make Littmann stethoscopes from doctor Littmann somewhere in the 60’s and they’ve been making them ever since.
As a whole 3M is a gigantic company that has processes in place that guarantee superior quality. As a result these stethoscopes guarantee you high-quality acoustics.
However between the models themselves there are big differences in quality.
For example a Littmann Classic has been reported to better convey low-frequency sounds than a Littmann LightWeight. As a result I have not listed the LightWeight here either.
Among the stethoscope brands there is a new player on the US markets. Vorfreude.
This German engineered stethoscope has been receiving rave reviews both on Amazon and on various online forums.
Lighter than Littmann
First off the Vorfreude stethoscope is light. About 5 % lighter than a Littmann Master Cardiology. Even though it has the same dimensions!
As a result the likelyhood of you having a strained neck is diminished when you carry your Vorfreude around your neck. Additionally the diaphragm edges have a mirror finish to prevent corrosion and pitting.
In addition this stethoscope comes in at a fraction of a cost compared to a Littmann.
Stethoscope brands copy each other
The funny thing is is that the industry is really small. Especially in the stethoscope industry where you have a big player such as Littmann, the smaller fish tend to look what the bigger one is doing and then copy them.
So in the same sense that Littmann has a tunable diaphragm, so does Vorfreude. However they have rebranded their technoogy as “PressFrequency”. But the working principle remains the same in both. The chestpiece does not have a bell-side. Just a diaphragm. Simply press down harder on the chestpiece to hear the high-frequency sounds.
Lastly the dual lumen tube design and single head eliminate ambient noise interference. Which is a major plus if you are an EMT.
ADC Adscope stethoscopes
In several reviews online ADC Adscope has gone out to rival Littmann as you can clearly make out from the review video above. Cost-wise they come in at several multiples less than Littmann. As mentioned in the Vorfreude section also ADC isn’t the biggest player amongst the stethoscope brands and as such tends to copy the technology Littmann brings out. However they can’t call their technology a “tunable” chestpiece since Littmann has the copyrights to that. ADC’s “AFD technology” however does exactly that. If you want to hear more higher frequency sounds simply press down harder on the chestpiece and you’ll be fine!
Tactical finish with black tubing, copper finish with black tubing, or stainless finish with one of twenty-two tubing colors
Tactical finish with black tubing or aluminum finish with one of seventeen tubing colors
Zinc/aluminum finish with one of five tubing colors
Tactical finish with black tubing or zinc/stainless finish with one of nine tubing colors
As American as they come, MDF is a small manufacturer stethoscopes and other healthcare devices. They’ve been in business since 1971 and are headquartered in LA. They are known for competing on price with Littmann. However they both provide roughly the same quality stethoscope.
Depending on who you ask the reason why they can offer such a low price is because they manufacture their products in Asia. At the same time cheaper substitutes have been used by MDF where Littmann would maybe use a more expensive material. Mostly people have commented that the diaphragm quality is that of a cheap stethoscope and the bell part is plastic.
A big benefit however of this stethoscope brands is their lifetime warranty and free parts-for-life program.
See below how the MDF stethoscopes pare up to the Littmanns.
One of the oldest stethoscope brands out there. Welch Allyn was started in 1915 and started originally producing medical equipment for eye doctors. Later in an effort to corner a bigger side of the market they branched out and started making top-notch stethoscopes. They are more of a top-line brand which shows in the price-tag. These stethoscopes usually go for between $100 and up to $250.
However they do produce one-time use stethoscopes to run diagnostics on highly infectious patients. These can be thrown away after use as to not risk any further spread of infection. These stethoscopes obviously are not as costly as their regular ones and tend to go for less than $8.
Although Welch Allyn focuses on producing stethoscopes for generalists, their line does include cardiology-grade stethoscopes. Because of this they have received a stable following of users in the medical field due to their catering to generalists. Particularly their Harvey and Elite lines are common due to their dependability and their relatively low price.
The whole point of making this website. The mighty stethoscope.
A stethoscope is a medical device that is used, generally, by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. They use it predominantly to perform checks on the heart and lung functions. These checks are called auscultations. Thanks to a stethoscope medical professionals can easily hear if your heart or lungs function properly.
Usually heart function and lung function sounds routine and clean. So if there are any murmurs that occur during the auscultation, the medical professionals will know something is up and further investigation is needed.
To a lesser degree mechanics also use stethoscopes. During the running of an engine stethoscopes can be used to determine any faults that might happen in the cylinder of a combustion engine. Unfortunately you cannot open a cylinder during a running engine to check out faults as this would intervene with the normal functioning of an engine. Therefore a stethoscope allows them to perform diagnostics on the engine. Much like a medical professional with a human body.
History of the stethoscope
It was invented in France by the french scientist Rene Laennec in Paris. This innovation came from necessity. He felt uncomfortable placing his ears on women’s chests in order to listen to heart sounds. As a result he decided to come up with a device that would add a little bit more distance between him and his patients.
The first prototype he came up with looked like an ocular device pirates would use.
He would place his ear on one end of this primitive stethoscope and the other end would end up on his patients’ chests. The design for this device has a lot of similarities with an old hearing aid device called an “ear trumpet“. Rene noticed that a rolled up notebook would amplify the sound of a beating heart without physical contact with the patient. He called his device a stethoscope. The term stethoscope has its origins in Ancient Greek. “Stethos” means chest and “Scope” which can be loosely translated as a listening device.
The earliest forms of stethoscopes that resembles the ones we know today came out in 1855 and were invented by Golding Bird. These were the first ones to feature flexible tubing. This next level of innovation was meant to provide extra comfort to the people performing auscultations.
Stethoscopes as we know them today are arguably the most recognizable piece of medical equipment out there. They are THE sign of medical professionals. Studies have also shown that images of people in lab-coats get a huge bump in confidentiality if they have a stethoscope draped around their neck. automatically people associate stethoscopes with the trustworthiness of a doctor. Even though mechanics, albeit to a lesser degree, are frequent users of stethoscopes as well!
There are those that say that slowly but surely the stethoscope is becoming obsolete. The rise of portable ultrasound devices are slowly fazing out the stethoscopes in hospitals. At least when it comes to cardiovascular research. In checking lungs and bowels for signs of disease however the stethoscope still has its place. However only time will tell for how long.
Different types of stethoscopes
Probably the best known stethoscope-type. They operate on the transmission of sound from the chest piece to the listeners’ ears, via air-filled hollow tubes. The chest piece usually consists of 2 sides that can be placed on the patients’ chest. a bell and a diaphragm. If the diaphragm is placed on the patients’ chest, acoustic airwaves are produced by the vibration of the plastic diaphragm which travel through the tubing to the listeners’ ears. If the bell is used then the vibrations are directly transmitted to the listeners’ ears. the diaphragm is used to hear high- frequency sounds while the bell best delivers low frequency sounds. Both are necessary to conduct a full scale auscultation. This two-sided stethoscope was invented by Rappaport and Sprague in the early part of the 20th century. Both also have stethoscope types named after them.
One major issue with acoustic stethoscopes has always been that the sound level is really low. This problem was overcome however in 1999 with the invention of the stratified continuous lumen, and the kinetic acoustic mechanism in 2002.
The main function of these types of stethoscopes is that they convert analog sound signals into digital ones. This can be achieved in one of two ways.
The first way in which this is done is by placing a microphone in the chestpiece. However this method has a lot of drawbacks. By amplifying the sound directly you have to deal with a lot of background noise that will be inadvertently amplified as well. This can seriously hinder an auscultation.
Another way to do this, and how 3M for instance does it, is to use a piezo-electric crystal. Piezo electric crystals work in such a way that when pressure is applied to them (think a heartbeat), a small electric charge is released. As a result ambient noise is filtered out and you only hear the actual heartbeat in digital form.
The big benefit of electronic stethoscopes is that you can store a patient’s auscultation to form a base-file of that patient. You will always have a future reference to go to if you hear or find something out of place. Secondly as the sounds they produce are digital, you can add a splitter device to the acoustic-outlet. This enables you to add a second pair of headphones. As a result you and your students can listen in on the same auscultation and you can show your students what to look out for.
A fetal stethoscope or a fetoscope looks a lot like the old listening trumpet. The device works by placing one end of the stethoscope on the pregnant woman’s abdomen. This allows the listener to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus. A fetoscope is also called a Pinard horn after the French obstetrician Adolphe Pinard.
A doppler stethoscope works using the famed doppler-effect. Motion is detected by the change in frequency of the soundwaves. As a result stethoscopes that use the doppler effect as the main detection principle have been shown to be more sensitive in the detection of aortic regurgitations and the detection of impaired ventricular relaxation.
How to use a stethoscope
Wherever possible it is recommended to do an auscultation in a quiet space. For EMT’s however this is not always possible and for them different stethoscopes have been developed. You can read more on the best stethoscopes for EMT’s here. Mostly the stethoscopes they use have special noise-dampening technology to muffle out the background noise.
The reason why you need to do an auscultation in a quiet space seems self-evident. It is important you focus fully on the sounds you want and need to hear. A noisy environment will only distract you too much from the job at hand.
Next it is important to keep in mind that the positioning of the patient plays an important role during the auscultation. A patient’s lungs can sound different whether he or she is laying on his/her’s side or sitting up etc. To listen to the heart and abdomen it’s recommended for your patient to lay down. However for the lungs you’ll find it easier if the patient is sitting up.
Using the chestpiece properly
Thirdly you need to decide if you want to go for the high-pitched or low-frequency sounds. The chestpiece on your stethoscope most likely will have 2 sides. One’s a bell and the other one is a diaphragm as described in the sections above.
The diaphragm is the bottom side pictured in the image above. It basically is a plastic sheet that transmits vibrations from your skin and delivers them via the tubing to the listener’s ears. It is this side you have to use to hear medium to high-pitched sounds.
On the other hand the bell-side is just a chamber that forms between the chestpiece and your patient’s chest. The change in volume of this chamber as a result of for example heart beats causes sound waves to travel via the tubing to the listener’s ear. Use this side for the..you guessed it.. low-pitched sounds.
Note: Always use the chestpiece on bare skin. If your patient still has clothes on while you use your stethoscope chances are you’ll hear nothing but rustling. The same issue persists if you treat someone who is overly hairy. Unfortunately in that case there is nothing the patient can do about it other than shave everything off. However if you face a particularly hairy patient, keep the chestpiece still to keep the rustling to a minimum.
Inspecting the heart
Heart sounds are generally medium to high-pitched. So in order to study the heart you need to use the diaphragm on your stethoscope. Place the diaphragm on your patient’s chest. Try to place it in such a way that the diaphragm covers the space on the left upper chest, where the 4th and 6th rib meet. This is almost directly under the breast. Then hold the chestpiece between your index and middle finger. Gently apply pressure until you do not hear your fingers rubbing together anymore.
Ask your patient to breathe normally. Try to listen to the heart for a full minute. During this time you should hear a sound which is best described as a “lub-dub”-sound. Of course it is hard to convey a sound through written text but I have found that “lub-dub” comes pretty close to what you will hear in real life.
These “lub” and “dub”-sounds also have their own, more scientific names. The “lub”- or systolic-sound happens when the mitral and tricuspid valves of the heart close.
The “dub”-sound, or diastolic, happens when the aortic and pulmonic valves close.
Count the number of heartbeats
Usually a normal person’s resting heart rate can be anything between 60 and 100 beats per minute. A well-trained athlete however will have a bigger heart. As a result the heart will need to pump less per minute to circulate blood around the body.
A well-trained athlete’s resting heart-rate lies between 40-60 beats per minute.
For infants and kids under 10 years old the normal heart-beat per minute range varies per age. For newborns it is very fast. Between 70-190 BPM.
However then as the kid matures, their heart grows and has to beat less to keep the blood flowing. Once a child turns 2 their heart beats already between 80-130 BPM.
Children between 7-9 have a heartbeat between 70-110 BPM.
What to listen for when using a stethoscope
First up if the heart-rate is elevated from the normal, that might be a sign of an underlying condition, or it can be that your patient is just nervous to be examined. That is why it is important to get a good understanding of how your patient behaves under normal circumstances.
However even for the untrained ear here are some pointers to look out or.
If you hear a sound that is more like “lub…shhhh…dub”, that might point to a heart murmur. A heart murmur is caused when blood rushes too quickly through the valves.
If you hear one there is still not immediately cause for concern as most people do have benign heart murmurs from time to time. However you should advise your patient to go check it out if you do detect one.
If you hear another sound, other than the familiar “lub-dub” then your patient might have a ventricular defect. This third heart sound is referred to as S3 or a ventricular gallop. It sounds like a low-frequency vibration. Advise your patient to go see a doctor if you hear this third heart sound.
Here is a list of normal and abnormal sounds that you can use to practice yourself. Go through this list and maybe after a while you can blindly identify some of the common heart conditions just by sound alone!
Listen for Bruits
The word “bruit” comes from the French word “bruit” and means “noise”. Usually when you detect a heart murmur in your patient you might want to check out if there are any bruit-sounds. They sound similar but are checked in completely different places.
First you need to place your stethoscope using the diaphragm side over one of the carotid arteries. The carotid arteries are 2 big arteries that run in the front of your neck, on either side of the Adam’s apple.
Be careful not to press too hard on the artery as you could cut off blood supply to the brain and cause your patient to faint. Never block off both arteries either as this surely will result in fainting. This is what MMA’s famous “choke-hold” is based on.
A bruit makes a whooshing sound that indicates an artery is narrowed. Here’s usually where the confusion happens. A bruit and a heart murmur can sound almost identical. However a bruit will sound much louder when you listen to the carotid arteries rather than the heart. You can also listen for bruits over the abdominal aorta, renal arteries, iliac arteries and femoral arteries.
A constricted artery is a serious medical issue and requires medical attention. Tell your patient to go see a doctor straight away!
Inspecting the lungs
Ask your patient to sit up straight and breathe normally. If you cannot hear any breathing sounds or if the breathing is too shallow to hear any abnormalities then ask your patient to breathe deeper.
Just like when doing a heart auscultation you need to use your diaphragm when checking the patient’s lungs. Listen to your patient’s upper and lower lobes and inspect the front and back.
The aim of the game is to compare both sides of your patient’s lungs and note if anything sounds out of the ordinary.
Normal breathing sounds
Normal breathing sounds are clear and crisp. It sounds like someone would be blowing air into a cup. Here’s a sample of normal lung sounds to train your ears. You can use these sounds to compare them to the ones you hear in your patients.
Abnormal breath sounds shouldn’t be too hard to pick up with your stethoscope. There basically are 4 types:
Wheezing sounds. Especially people with asthma can wheeze from time to time. These sounds are high-pitched and almost sound like someone would have swallowed a chew-toy. If your patient has a really bad asthma problem you can sometimes even hear the wheezing without the need for a stethoscope. This wheezing occurs when the patient exhales
Stridor-sounds sound similar to wheezing but occur when the patient inhales. This is usually the result of a blockage in the back of the throat. Also this can be heard at times without the need for a stethoscope.
Rhonchi sounds sound like snoring. You need a stethoscope to detect these sounds. They are caused when air flows through a “rough” patch in the lungs or because the air-pathway in the lungs is blocked.
Rales sounds sound like popping bubble-wrap or rattling in the lungs. This is heard when a person inhales.
Divide the abdomen into 4 sections using your patient’s bellybutton as a reference. Listen to the upper left, -right and lower left, -right sections of the abdomen. Use the diaphragm side of the chestpiece of your stethoscope.
Normal bowel sounds sound like when your stomach growls or grumbles. Anything else may suggest something is wrong and the patient requires further attention. You should hear growling in all four sections. However if your patient has just had surgery it might take a while for the growling sounds to return.
Abnormal bowel sounds come in three types:
Lack of bowel sounds. This should raise your suspicion. If you do not hear anything it might be that something is blocked in the patient’s stomach. It could also be indicative of constipation and bowel sounds may return on their own.
However if they don’t then the patient needs to be checked out by a doctor.
Hyperactive or fast bowel sounds can be indicative of Crohn’s disease, a gastrointestinal bleed, food allergies and a whole other host of not so nice causes. Have your patient checked out straight away. If these fast bowel sounds are followed by a lack of bowel sounds then it could be there has been a rupture or necrosis of the bowel tissue.
Lastly very high-pitched bowel sounds can indicate there is an obstruction in the bowels. Air passing through the gaps of this obstruction is restricted, causing the high-pitched sounds.
Turn up your volume to get the most out of this following video!
Lastly: checking blood pressure with a stethoscope
This is probably where you and I have seen a stethoscope used most.
You’ll need a “Sphygmomanometer” for this. In simple terms this just means blood-pressure gauge. On our right hand side we can see one. In order to measure your patient’s blood pressure you first need to roll up the sleeve if it’s in the way. If you measure someone’s blood pressure you always need to make sure the blood pressure cuff fits snugly on bare skin.
Press the bell of the stethoscope over the brachial artery just below the cuff’s edge. You can also use the diaphragm if you have trouble hearing with the bell. The sounds to look out for are called “Korotkoff”-sounds. These are low tone knocking sounds that indicate the patient’s systolic blood pressure.
Next inflate the cuff to 180mmHg or 30mm above your expected systolic blood pressure. You can find the reading by looking at the sphygmomanometer. That’s just a fancy word for the gauge on the blood pressure cuff. Then, release air from the cuff at a moderate rate (3mm/sec).
As you release the air, listen with the stethoscope and keep your eyes on the sphygmomanometer (gauge on the blood pressure cuff).
You should hear a knocking sound as air releases fro the cuff. Make a mental note the first time you hear such a knocking sound of the reading on your gauge. This will be the patient’s systolic blood pressure. Keep watching the gauge though as the second knocking sound will come just around the corner.
After this knocking sound stops, note the number on your gauge when you last heard a knocking sound. This is the patient’s diastolic pressure.
Lastly release all the air from the cuff once you noted these two numbers and send your patient home.
If the systolic pressure is over 120 or diastolic pressure is more than 80, you might want to recheck your patient’s blood pressure once a few minutes have passed. If the second measurement shows again an increased blood pressure it’s time to go see a doctor to find out the cause!
MDF Acoustica has been handcrafting their stethoscopes since 1971. It has a lifetime-warranty, features a Free-Parts-for-Life Program AND is Latex Free.
Constructed from acoustically-superior stainless steel, the MDF MD One Stethoscope delivers accurate auscultation of heart, lung, and Korotkoff sounds with acoustic integrity and clarity. An ergonomic design ensures comfort for the doctor and patient, even during extended use.
The handcrafted stainless steel dual-head chestpiece is precisely machined and hand polished for the highest performance and durability. The full-rotation acoustic valve stem with green indicator dot allows the user to easily identify the active sound channel and seals in sound.
Constructed of thicker, denser, latex-free PVC, the Y-configuration non-stick acoustic tubing provides insulation for superior sound transmission and seals out ambient noise while preventing the cracking and wearing that can occur from repeated use. In addition the longer-than-average length allows a comfortable space between health professional and patient.
Acoustic Pyramid Chamber:
A patented internal metal-alloy chamber located in the acoustic tubing below the spring keeps the tubing channel open for maximum sound transmission into the headset.
Hand polished, pre-angled stainless steel headset features a patented internal dual-leaf spring construction for durability and custom fit. Soft silicone ComfortSeal eartips (available in standard and small sizes) are clear for hygienic purposes and conform to the ear to seal out extraneous noise while ensuring comfort during extended use. In addition Patented SafetyLock eartip adaptors lead the industry in user safety. Included Accessories: 2 extra sets ComfortSeal eartips, spare ultrasensitive diaphragm, and ID tag.
In addition as this is retailing on amazon for $70, however now for only $25 makes this a great stethoscope for sale!
This Vorfreude® Cardiology Stethoscope offers the industry’s strongest warranty; Full Lifetime Replacement. Simply contact us from your point of purchase; we will mail a brand new replacement.
PressFrequency™ pinpoints any frequency, within the audible range, by diaphragm pressure with high acoustic sensitivity for superior performance.
This Vorfreude® Cardiology Stethoscope includes: a replacement diaphragm, 4 replacement ear tips, a solid carry case for replacements, a customizable stethoscope nameplate, a pupil penlight, and penlight batteries included.
Patented BiChannel™ allows binaural flow contained within single master tubing reducing weight.
Oversized stainless steel bell with non-chill ring and ergonomic noise cancelling grip increases the audible volume.
Hypoallergenic latex free, PBA free, stainless steel, and sterilized at the factory testing facility.
Instructions for use
The Oversized stainless steel bell with non-chill ring and ergonomic noise cancelling grip increases the audible volume while ensuring a firm grip on the chestpiece. Take care that loose clothing or mechanical watches do not contact the bell housing to avoid audible interference.
2. Changing Frequencies Using PressFrequency™ Diaphragm.
This Vorfreude® Cardiology Stethoscope diaphragm allows for full audible range focus with PressFrequency™. Simply apply more pressure to hear different sound frequencies!
A. Low Frequencies:
To listen at low frequencies, apply the lightest pressure on the diaphragm.
B. High Frequencies:
To listen at high frequencies, press the diaphragm firmly on the chestpiece.
3. Patented BiChannel™ Allows Binaural Flow:
A. This Vorfreude® Cardiology Stethoscope is designed to provide a comfortable fit while acoustically sealing to your ear canal. The binaural are set to accommodate the typical ear canal with comfort tip in the forward direction as shown.
This is an amazing steal as this retails usually for $289 USD on amazon. However this is now a stethoscope for sale and is going for only $49.87 USD!
Here is what one customer on Amazon had to say:
“It was packaged perfectly, so nothing would break or get damaged during shipping, loved the extra!
Vorfreude Cardiology Stethoscope is the most flexible of them all! It has a two-sided tunable chest piece that has a real side for the adult patients and a smaller side for the pediatric patients. The client can likewise change over the stomach to an open chime by expelling the stomach on the pediatric side and append the no chill sleeve.
My Impression of the Vorfreude Cardiology Stethoscope
The imaginative Vorfreude Cardiology Stethoscope takes out tube rubbing clamor while you have the versatile comfort of a solitary sided trunk piece. The Snap-Tight delicate fixing ear-tips offer superb acoustic seal and this item likewise incorporates an uncommon methods connector for a troublesome site or pediatric auscultation.
Best Qualities of Vorfreude Cardiology Stethoscope? • It’s light weight so it will turn out to be light on the shoulder. • Length of tubing is sufficiently long for proper examination of the patient. • Stomachs must be comprised of excellent PE compound film, tar with adaptability. It is ideal to have 35mm stomachs for grown-up use, 25 mm for pediatric use and 45mm for cardiology use. • Degree ought to have non-chill edge, agreeable ear piece, stainless steel binaural and tube divider should sufficiently thick to distance from external sounds blending
The 3M Littmann Classic iii Stethoscope offers high acoustic performance. It’s tunable diaphragm is a real timesaver during diagnostics. The stethoscope also has a renewed design that makes it far easier to clean than before. At less than $100 on amazon, there is very little risk for this essential tool if you study or work in the medical field.
The stethoscope is the latest version of a classic that has helped clinicians perform at their best for years. It has been used by students and medical professionals to identify, study and listen to heart and lung sounds. It has a better acoustic performance than the Lightweight stethoscope. Reportedly the Classic handles lower-frequency sounds much better than the Lightweight.
The patented tunable diaphragm technology allows you to hear different frequency sounds just by pressing. In order to hear low frequency sounds, press down normally. However if you want to hear high frequency sounds, just press harder down on the chestpiece. In this way you can focus more on your patient, rather than on your tools. In addition the non-chill rim that features every Littmann stethoscope helps your patient feel even more comfortable.
Pulling apart or squeezing the eartubes allows for easy headset-tension adjustment. The eartips, that are specially molded to snugly fit your ear, provide a tight fit. No more will they pop out of your ear during an auscultation.
Resilient next-generation tubing retains its shape and flexibility even after it’s been folded away into a pocket. It provides longer stethoscope life. due to improved resistance to skin oils and alcohol, and is less likely to pick up stains. Next-generation tubing is not made with natural rubber latex, a benefit to sensitive medical professionals and their patients. And, to play its part in the protection of human health and the environment, the next-generation tubing does not contain phthalate plasticizers.
The Littmann Classic iii stethoscope is made in the USA for consistent quality. It comes complete with large and small soft-sealing eartips, non-chill bell sleeve, and instructions.
Here’s what makes the Littmann Classic iii stethoscope stand out:
Tunable diaphragms on both the adult and pediatric sides of the chestpiece. The pediatric side is useful for small or thin patients, around bandages, and for carotid assessment.
Pediatric side converts to an open bell. Just remove the single-piece diaphragm and replace it with a non-chill rim.
Single-piece diaphragm is easy to attach and easy to clean because the surface is smooth without crevices.
No natural rubber latex
Open bell stays clear of dirt and debris by covering it with the small diaphragm.
Next-generation tubing lasts longer with improved resistance to skin oils and alcohol; less likely to pick up stains.
No natural rubber latex or phthalate plasticizers are used in the tubing or any other component.
Customer reviews for the Littmann Classic iii: (taken from littmann.com)
★★★★ 4 out of 5 stars.
·10 days ago
3M Littmann Classic III tubing
I am pleased to say I am happy with the replacement tubing and cleaning of my daughter’s 3M Littmann III stethoscope. The original tubing had started to crack after plenty of use, it was purchased back in December 2015. I like the way you can find the product information by using the serial number. Thank you.
Response from 3m-littmann:
Hello — We are so glad we were able to help replace the tubing of your daughter’s stethoscope and give it an overall cleaning. That’s great to hear that our service and warranty tool made it easy for you! It is an honor to serve her as she makes a difference in people’s lives!
★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars.
·a month ago
Great set of ears
I have been an EMT for a year in a busy 911 service and I hear better with this than most others, also love the pediatric side, very useful!
★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars.
·2 months ago
Bought mine 14 years ago in the rasberry color. its still bright and brand new looking! works great. wont buy any other style
On some occasions it has been reported that the diaphragm tends to detach too easily in the Littmann classic iii.
It seems to be a design issue. the “furrow” holding the diaphragm is too superficial and the diaphragm rim doesn’t have enough grasp to stay in place.
Whenever you try to auscultate an overweight patient or a weak patient that can’t lean forward enough to allow good space between their back and the bed, you’ll end up “sliding” the stethoscope in and once in a while, the diaphragm will come off.
What happens also in some cases, is that if you’re not attentive, you basically loose the diaphragm. Littmann has warranty though and they will send you replacements.
In the classic II however this problem has never come up. So buyer be ware!
Let us know how you get on with your Littmann Classic iii. If you are looking to buy one make sure you get the best price here, on amazon.com.
Stethoscopes are manufactured by a variety of brands. That is why a stethoscope price can vary greatly. However important to remember is that when you are looking to buy a stethoscope, buy one that is suited to your field.
It doesn’t make any sense for you to get a Littmann Cardiology 3 if you are a student nurse for example. Hardly will you ever have to do an auscultation that would require the need for such a sophisticated stethoscope. You will be more than fine with a Littmann Classic.
However if you plan on specializing in cardiology or surgery in general then a Littmann Cardiology-grade stethoscope might be just what you need.
If you are an EMT however you might be better suited with a Littmann Master Classic II. These stethoscopes have an additional feature to them that they filter out excessive background noise. So they are perfect to use in a blaring ambulance. You’ll have no trouble hearing the sounds you need to hear in the line of duty.
Why does stethoscope price vary so much?
Usually it has to do with the quality of the acoustics provided. Generally speaking a more expensive stethoscope will give you a clearer sound and a better overall quality. That is not to say though that some brands..ahum..Littmann..ahum.. at some points tend to overcharge just for the sake of the brand.
I see no reason for example why the newest Littmann cardiology needs to be priced $50 more expensive than the current one on the market. The only reason I see is an economical one as they want to somehow show to the consumer that the new one is better and hence more expensive. Even though the changes they did to go from Littmann cardiology 3 to 4 are in my view incremental in nature.
Secondly of course the finishes play a bog role in the price of any item. If you have a gold-plated stethoscope vs a normal one, chances are you’ll pay a premium for the gold-plated one. But they also just look really cool!
Let’s list some stethoscopes below and I’ll go by stethoscope price:
This is an excellent stethoscope if you are a young nursing student, a beginning med-student or if you just want to own a stethoscope. The Lightweight Littmann offers supreme acoustics that we are accustomed to from a Littmann stethoscope. However if you find it difficult to hear low-frequency sounds, I would recommend you another stethoscope.
There have been some issues reported by older people that they had trouble hearing lower frequency sounds with this stethoscope. When it comes to stethoscope price you can hardly beat the price/quality ratio with this stethoscope. Definitely a winner in my book, if you keep in mind above concerns.
The MDF Acoustica is proof that not all stethoscopes need to be Littmann stethoscopes to be good ones. Sure Littmann might have a lot of marketshare but that doesn’t mean there are other stethoscope manufacturers that can’t be just as good. This particular model has been tried and tested in trauma centers and ambulances throughout the country. All of the feedback so far has been positive. Some even saying that the acoustics on this one are as good as on the Cardiology III.
It is lightweight and feels comfortable around the neck. This stethoscope has specialized earbuds for a snug fit in your ear. It is also latex free. As a result the chances of an allergic reaction on you or your patient have been diminished. At half the cost of a Lightweight Littmann you can hardly go wrong with this one.
If you are looking for a stethoscope to get your medical career started, This is the one. The Littmann Classic is a classic in itself. It has superior acoustics than the Lightweight version. It can pick up even the faintest of low frequency sounds, ensuring you that nothing will go unnoticed. This is a good all-round stethoscope that will get you started. You can still decide later on if you want to upgrade to a cardiology-grade stethoscope. However you’ll find that most will stick to their classic in the end. At less than $100 this is a steal on amazon!
Don’t let the looks of this stethoscope fool you. You might think all you’re paying for would be the fancy look of this stunning stehoscope. And I wouldn’t blame you for thinking so. However the sensitivity of this ADC Adscope stethoscope truly is exquisite. A customer even wrote on amazon that it rivals that of some of the Littmanns he owns.
The downside of this stethoscope is that it is a Sprague-type stethocope, making the head quite heavy. It also comes with a bag however that one is quite big too. All in all a decent stethoscope that will truly make you look professional!
Stethoscopes over $100
At this point the sky is the limit really. You can spend a fortune if you wish on stethoscopes. However the truth is that you rarely need to unless you plan on specializing in a certain field of cardiology. I would say that 90% of cases where you need a stethoscope, you can solve those with the stethoscopes mentioned above.
Let me know your opinion on this list. Do you think the acoustics of the MDF Acoustica can be compared to that of a Littmann? What do you think influence stethoscope price?
When you ask any doctor “What’s the best stethoscope out on the market today?”, chances are they’ll say the Littmann Cardiology 3 stethoscope.
Littmann was an actual doctor. Doctor David Littmann was born in 1906 in Chelsea, Massachusetts and was a cardiologist. He became well known for his patented Littmann stethoscope that he started selling with Gus Machlup. At the time only two versions of his stethoscope were available. One for doctors and a less sophisticated (and cheaper!) one for nurses.
Later on 3M acquired the company in the late 60 but kept dr. Littmann on board as a consultant.
Funny fact that the 1960’s era Littmann cardiology 3 stethoscope, which is out of patent, became the basis of a 3D-printed telescope. The model of which is freely available through the open source Glia project.
Currently the newest version of the Littmann cardiology series consists of the following stethoscopes:
Littmann cardiology IV stethoscope
This stethoscope is designed for medical professionals who need exceptional acoustic performance. Its innovative design provides a single. Its innovative design provides a single-piece tunable diaphragm on each side of the chestpiece.
It’s the next generation of one of the most recognized stethoscopes in the profession. It offers improved acoustics with better audibility of high frequency sounds, compared to the Littmann Cardiology 3. To hear the higher frequency sounds, turn the chestpiece to the adult-side and press firmly. The distinctive Littmann chestpiece has a pediatric and adult side. Simply flip the sides to fit the patient.
Both the adult and pediatric sides of the chestpiece have single-piece diaphragms that are easy to remove, attach and clean because the surfaces are smooth and without crevices.
The 3M-tunable diaphragm technology allows you to hear different frequency sounds by simply adjusting the pressure on the chestpiece. Hold the chestpiece with light pressure to hear low frequency sounds. To hear higher fequency sounds simply press a little more. This time-saving feature allows you to focus on the patient, while the non-chill rim provides patient comfort.
Headset tension is easily adjusted for head size. Simply squeeze together or pull apart the eartubes. Snap-tight, soft-sealing eartips fit individual ears completely for an excellent acoustic seal and comfortable fit. Eartips snap firmly onto the ends of the eartubes and, for safety, require a significant effort to remove.
Dual-lumen tubing combines two sounds paths in one tube, eliminating the rubbing noise that traditional double tubes create. This feature makes it possible for the clinician to hear patient sounds with less interference.
Resilient next-generation tubing retains its shape and flexibility even after folding tightly into a pocket. It provides longer stethoscope life due to improved resistance to skin oils and alcohol, and is less likely to pick up stains. Next-generation tubing is not made with natural rubber latex, a benefit to sensitive clinicians and their patients. Also, to play its part in the protection of human health and the environment, the next-generation tubing is not made with phthalate plasticizers.
The Littmann Cardiology IV stethoscope is made in the USA and is supported by a seven-year warranty. It comes complete with large and small soft-sealing eartips, large firm eartips, non-chill bell sleeve, and instructions.
A piece of perfection and a master of all. I’ve enjoyed much the joy of extraordinary purity and clearness of sounds transmitted by this very high-quality stethoscope. As a pediatric cardiologist I am sure I cannot find more satisfying experiment with this product which have certainly no competitors at this high level of performance. I have the 27”. Only I have wished if the tube was an inch or two longer, like 28 or 29. I think that gives more space and comfort while performing examination of children in their mother’s laps, and it is my personal preference.
★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars.
·5 months ago
Great for moving rigs and noisy areas
I replaced my trusted cardiology scope of 30 years with a new cardiology IV. I am most impressed with its performance especially when I’m around a nosy area or getting vitals in a moving vehicle like an ambulance or rescue rig. The services provide their own equipment but what they use is inferior to the Littmann. The cardiology IV sounds are crisp and clear without the noise that other stethoscopes let in to muffle/confuse the sounds your trying to hear. If you need a stethoscope that isolates sounds better that any other stethoscope (I have tried many over the years) to preform your job than this is the one for you.
★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars.
·10 months ago
An extension of my ears!
After 25 years of faithful service, my Littmann Cardiology ll finally needed repair so I sent it in and am waiting for the return of my trusted friend. While waiting, I purchased the Cardiology IV and I absolutely love it. Being a Pediatric Nurse, I need a quality stethoscope and I had no hesitation purchasing the Cardiology IV.
My colleagues have used it and comment on how well it auscultates heart and lung sounds. Once you have an outstanding stethoscope like the Cardiology Series, nothing can compete. It is worth spending the extra money on a stethoscope that will last for many years. Don’t let it out of your sight because everyone in your department will want to use it. Wrap a fall precaution bracelet around it and put your name on it!! I will always have and always will use a Littmann Cardiology stethoscope. You will not be disappointed with any of the Cardiology Series stethoscopes.
Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope
The Littmann Master Cardiology stethoscope has the best acoustic response in the Littmann series. It too feautures the tunable diaphragm that are now slowly becoming standard on other Littmann stethoscopes.
This technology allows you to hear both low- and high frequencies without needing to turn the chestpiece. Simply apply more pressure to hear the higher frequency sounds. Apply normal pressure for lower frequency sounds. This saves you both time and effort and makes the whole diagnostic procedure run a lot smoother.
To adjust the headset tension just pull apart the eartubes. The eartips are also specially designed to fit snugly in your ear. This just adds to the overall comfort.
The Master Cardiology stethoscope is made in the USA for consistent quality. It comes complete with large and small soft-sealing eartips, large firm eartips, Special Procedures Adapter, and instructions.
Simply the best stethoscope available. Crystal clear sound (beats any available product, including electronic type), durable tube, easy-to-grab chestpiece, easy to clean, 7-year warranty with a relatively reasonable price, cannot find a better choice. You want the hi-end stethoscope, and here’s the hi-end.
★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars.
·4 months ago
I owned a classic when I received the hunter and brass edition as a gift. Its fantastic. No difficulty like with the classic listening to AF etc. Only downfall it’s heavy. Other than that, fantastic.
★★★ 3 out of 5 stars.
·4 months ago
Great stethoscope, bad tubing.
This has been my favorite stethoscope as an ER doc, but I am currently returning it due to the tubing being cracked in multiple places. This is the SECOND TIME this has happened in 6 years. Thankfully, Littmann makes return and repair easy for scopes under warranty, which this one is and has one year left. But I question why the vinyl tube is so fragile. I use vinyl tubing when I brew beer that runs boiling liquid through it, and they stay supple. Clearly from prior comments this is a recurring problem. Buying a replacement on Amazon is $85. Boo.
Whether you are a nursing student, a medical student or already a practicing healthcare professional, chances are you need to have a stethoscope with you at all time. However especially for people new to the industry the amount of variety available can be quite daunting. Therefore I have attempted to create these stethoscope reviews to provide some clarity.
First off the type of stethoscope you’ll need depends largely on what you will use the stethoscope for.
For example if you are a nursing student or already a registered nurse, you most likely will not need a cardiology-grade stethoscope to do diagnostic procedures. Usually a more standard stethoscope will do fine for regular heart-rate and blood-pressure monitoring.
However if you will do more hardcore diagnostics then a more advanced model is probably what you’ll need.
If you are a medical student and you are still in your formative years, I highly recommend a stethoscope that is equally versatile. Unfortunately for you this means that it won’t be cheap. Versatility costs, but at least with the Littmann Cardiology 3 you get exceptional quality for your money.
Exceptional Versatility + Outstanding Performance
As you will do a variety of diagnostic procedures, you need to be prepared for anything. As a result you need a unit that is as versatile as the Littmann Cardiology 3. In several stethoscope reviews this particular one has come out on top. The Litmann Cardiology III provides excellent acoustics thanks to its “two-in-one”-tube design. It’s also very easy to use because you can hear both high and flow frequency sounds without having to flip the chest piece over.
It comes in 2 sizes, a 22- and 27-inch model. It is available in a variety of colors and it has a 5-year warranty.
For medical students, nothing can be more ideal than the Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope. It offers quality and versatility at a very good price.
In general the diagnostic procedures that you’ll be doing as a registered nurse will not be as demanding as those of medical students. That does not mean you can afford a cheap stethoscope however. Luckily though the Littmann Classic II SE comes in at over half the price of the cardiology-grade stethoscope described above.
There is a reason why I am not recommending you the lightweight version as the classic Littmann offers superior acoustics. I have noticed that some people who have trouble hearing low-frequency sounds do not pick them up using the Littmann Lightweight. Hence the Classic is a much better choice to pick up even the faintest of thuds.
The soft seal ear tips also help block out surrounding noise, which is especially helpful in noisy situations. It provides a convenient way to measure low and high frequency sounds by just adjusting pressure on the tunable diaphragm. This eliminates the need to keep turning the chest piece, saving you time.
3M is a known company in many stethoscope reviews and this one is no different. The value you get from this well-known and valued company is exquisite. This particular stethoscope comes with a 2-year warranty.
For nursing students, nothing can be more ideal than the Littmann Classic II SE stethoscope. For a reasonable price you get a stethoscope that’ll last you a lifetime.
As an EMT professional, the number one concern you have when doing diagnostics is outside interference. It is imperative that you get the right results fast. Without hindrance from outside sources such as blaring sirens.
Therefore the Littmann Master Classic II is just the stethoscope for you to get those quick results without being disturbed by outside factors. Moreover, due to its “tunable technology”, you can conveniently hear both high and low frequency sounds as you examine patients. Simply apply light or firm pressure to the chest piece. With other stethoscopes you would need to turn the chest piece to perform this procedure, and you lose valuable time. This does mean however that you need to proficient in using a stethoscope. If you aren’t or aren’t yet then I would suggest to go with the Littmann Classic II SE instead.
The headset on the Master Classic II is designed for high-performance sound transmission and can be flexed as many times as needed during examinations. It is durable enough to be flexed up to one million times which allows it to provide long-lasting service.
The snap-tight soft sealing eartips provide both a comfortable fit and an acoustic seal blocking out environmental sounds that may, as mentioned above, negatively influence diagnosis. This is especially helpful in noisy situations.
As all 3M Littmann stethoscopes this one also comes with a non-chill rim that assures your patients of a pleasant examination experience.