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.

 

Vorfreude Stethoscope – German Engineering at its finest

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From the German word for anticipation, this German stethoscope really lives up to its name. From the very first second you hold a vorfreude stethoscope in your hand, you can’t help but think “Why did I spend so much on that Littmann”?

This stethoscope is a bit of a specialty as Vorfreude offers you a lifetime replacement guarantee. This basically renders your purchase risk-free. They state on their website that if you are not satisfied with your product, you can return it easily and effortlessly back to them. In return they will offer you a replacement for free, should you so wish.

Amazon quite often has really good prices on these stethoscopes. Check out if they are on sale here:

Image result for best price on amazon

Lighter than Littmann

The vorfreude stethoscope has the same dimensions as a Littmann Master Cardiology, while being 5% lighter. This will prevent you getting strained necks from carrying your stethoscope around your neck. The diaphragm edges have a mirror finish to prevent corrosion and pitting.

As it is manufactured and engineered in German you get to enjoy the famous German engineering quality when you buy this stethoscope. Its acoustics truly rival that of a Littmann, while costing only a fraction.

The perfect medical gift

The complete Vorfreude stethoscope kit as described here not only features the stethoscope, it also has 4 replacement ear tips, a free Vorfreude pupil pen light and two AAA batteries. This makes it the perfect medical gift for you budding medical student or doctor-friend. Moreover this gift will last a lifetime thanks to Vorfreude’s lifetime replacement guarantee.

The stethoscope’s patented BiChannel alignment allows you to flexibly adjust the headset and ear tips. This ensures a comfortable fit for a wide range of canal vector alignments.

Has some resemblance to Littmann

The dual lumen tube design and single head eliminates ambient noise interference. As a result this vorfreude stethoscope is perfect for EMT’s!

The tunable diaphragm utilizes patented “PressFrequency”-technology that reminds strongly of the Littmann’s tunable diaphragm technology. Due to this fact this vorfreude stethoscope becomes a dream to handle for someone who is used to master a Littmann.

 

Amazon customer review

Here’s what a previous purchaser of a vorfreude stethoscope had to say when they purchased one on amazon:

“My best friends son is only in early high school but has already been accepted into an internship program at their local hospitals emergency room. He is an incredibly smart and talented kid who already knows that he wants to go into some form of medicine when he graduates. Because of this, I have been looking for anything that might help him in his future endeavors in the medical profession.

This stethoscope is high quality and something that hopefully will last him a long while. Even better is that it comes with a bunch of smaller items to help assist in using it. (Think spare ear buds, penlight, name tag, etc). It’s packaged nicely as well so that it can’t be broken or mishandled during shipping. The whole combination of features is wonderful and the customer service is even better. I highly recommend the vorfreude stethoscope for anyone who works in home health or the medical field.”

 

Image result for best price on amazon

 

Possible dealbreaker

In about 5% of cases it has been reported that the diaphragm which is attached to the Vorfreude stethoscope, tends to pop off. However thanks to the guarantee that Vorfreude provides you should be fine. The overall majority of people have reported no issues.