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

stethoscope brands, littmann stethoscopesstethoscope brands, littmann stethoscopestethoscope brands, littmann stethoscopestethoscope brands, littmann stethocopestethoscope brands, littmann stethoscopes
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.

 

stethoscope brands, stethoscope brand, stethoscopes brands, stethoscopes brand, vorfreude stethoscope, best vorfreude stethoscope

 

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?

litmann stethoscope sale, stethoscope price

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?