Stethoscope brands – A short overview

stethoscope brands

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.

Littmann stethoscopes

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Classic IIIMaster Classic IICardiology IIICardiology IVMaster Cardiology
Acoustic Performance899910
Ideal For Diagnosis and Physical AssessmentDiagnosis and Physical Assessment‎Cardiology/High PerformanceCardiology/High PerformanceCardiology/High Performance
Warranty2 Years 3 Years5 Years7 Years7 Years
Chestpiece Design/MaterialDouble Sided/Machined Stainless SteelSingle Sided/Plated and Polished AlloyDouble Sided/Machined Stainless SteelDouble Sided/Machined Stainless SteelSingle Sided/Cast Stainless Steel
Available Color/Finishes18 Colors/ 4 Finishes9 Colors/ 2 Finishes16 Colors/ 6 Finishes7 Colors/ Stainless Steel Finish7 Colors/ 3 Finishes
Diaphragm – tunable: hear different frequency sounds without turning over or repositioningRedesigned Single-piece Tunable Diaphragm on each side of the ChestpieceTunable DiaphragmTwo Tunable DiaphragmsRedesigned Single-piece Tunable Diaphragm on each side of the ChestpieceTunable Diaphragm
Tube DesignSingle Lumen TubingSingle Lumen TubingDual Lumen TubingDual Lumen TubingDual Lumen Tubing
Weight/Length150 grams, 27″/69cm160 grams, 27″/69cm175, 180 grams Available in 22” / 56cm and 27” / 69cm167, 177 grams Available in 22” / 56cm and 27” / 69cm175, 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.

 

Vorfreude stethoscopes

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.

 

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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!

 

stethoscope adc adscope clinician american diagnostic acoutstic adjustable frequency headset eartip stethoscope adc adscope clinician american diagnostic acoutstic adjustable frequency headset eartip stethoscope adc adscope clinician american diagnostic acoutstic adjustable frequency headset eartip stethoscope adc adscope clinician american diagnostic acoutstic adjustable frequency headset eartip
ADC Adscope 603 ADC Adscope 609 ADC Adscope 612 ADC Adscope 615
Scope Type Clinician Clinician Clinician Clinician
Chestpiece Type Combination Combination AFD Technology AFD Technology
Chestpiece Material Stainless Aluminum Zinc Zinc
Chestpiece Finish Satin Satin Satin Brushed
Diaphragm Diameter 1-3/4″ 1-3/4″ 1-1/2″ 2 3/16″
Headset Type Clinician Clinician Clinician Clinician
Headset Material Stainless Aluminum Stainless Stainless
Eartip Type Adsoft Plus Adsoft Plus Adsoft Plus Adsoft Plus
Total Weight 5.8 oz 3.5 oz 4.9 oz 5.4 oz
Colors and Finishes 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

 

 

MDF stethoscopes

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.

 

Customer Rating 4 out of 5 stars (751) 4 out of 5 stars (2079) 4 out of 5 stars (3747) 4 out of 5 stars (625) 4 out of 5 stars (751) 4 out of 5 stars (28)
Price $$ $$$ $$ $ $ $$$$
Sold By Coastal Clothing Company Amazon.com Corydor MDF Instruments Official Store Amazon.com MDF Instruments Official Store
Color All Black (BlackOut) Black Tube Black All Black (BlackOut) Tactical Black All Black (BlackOut)
Item Dimensions 6.42 x 12.91 x 2.2 in 6.61 x 12.72 x 1.73 in 5.13 x 9.75 x 1.75 in 5 x 9.5 x 1.6 in 0.94 x 31 x 4.19 in 16.3 x 32.8 x 5.6 in
Item Weight 1 lb 5.29 ounces 4.2 ounces 0.6 lb 4.48 ounces 0.51 lb
Size Adult One Size Metal/Resin Composite Chestpiece Adult One Size Adult

 

 

Welch Allyn stethoscopes

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.

 

Stethoscope Price – Why Do They Vary So Much?

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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:

 

Stethoscopes under $50

Littmann Lightweight II S.E. stethoscope

stethoscope price, 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope, Black Tube, 28 inch, 2450

 

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.

 

MDF Acoustica Deluxe Lightweight Dual Head Stethoscope

stethoscope price, MDF Acoustica Deluxe Lightweight Dual Head Stethoscope - All Black (MDF747XP-BO)

 

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.

 

Stethoscopes under $100

3M Littmann Classic II S.E.
stethoscope price

 

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!

 

ADC Adscope 645 Gold Sprague Stethoscope 18K Gold Plated W/Black Tube

ADC® Adscope® 645 Gold Sprague Stethoscope 18K Gold Plated W/Black Tube

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?

 

Stethoscope Reviews – Make sure you buy the right one!

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.

 

The best stethoscope reviews for medical students

Litmann Cardiology III

stethoscope reviews, Littmann Cardiology III Stethoscope

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. 

 

 

The best stethoscope for nursing students

Littmann Classic II SE

Littmann Classic II SE

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. 

 

 

The best stethoscope for EMT professionals

Littmann Master Classic II Stethoscope

stethoscope reviews, 3M Littmann 2141 Master Classic II Stethoscope 27 inch Chestpiece and Eartubes, Black

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.

For EMT professionals, you’ll get the most benefit from the Littmann Master Classic II stethoscope. Never miss a beat again!

 

 

Funnily enough the Littmann stethoscope feature in almost all stethoscope reviews. This one is no different as they really do offer the best bang for your buck!