For doctors who work in the medical field selecting a high quality stethoscope is an essential part of daily work.
Choosing a stethoscope that’s durable, lightweight and offers superior sound quality can make your job simpler and help you identify potential medical issues faster.
While there is no perfect stethoscope for any one doctor, there are a number of well built devices that offer great all around sound auscultation and are designed to work well with a wide variety of patients.
These 6 stethoscopes are all designed by 3M Littmann and are chosen based on their build quality, use case and customer reviews.
1. 3M Littmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope
The 3M Littmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope is 28 inches long and is designed with a highly sensitive dual-sided chest piece and tunable diaphragm for optimal listening of high and low frequency sounds. Tuning the diaphragm can be done with a simple pressure change allowing the user to adjust the frequency with minimal effort.
The headset is anatomically designed to line up appropriately with the ear canal for the best listening experience and a pair of soft, comfortable ear tips allow for a comfortable experience while being used throughout the day.
A non-chill rim ensure patient comfort as they are being examined and the stethoscope is made using latex-free materials, so individuals with latex sensitivity can work in confidence.
2. 3M Littmann Master Classic II Stethoscope
This award winning stethoscope features a single sided tunable diaphragm with high to low frequency adjust-ability and a non-chill rim. The 3M Littmann Master Classic II Stethoscope measures 27 inches long, so that you can comfortably observe your patient while checking their vitals and listening to their body.
A high performance single-lumen tube provides efficient sound auscultation for maximal clarity. As with all of Littmann’s stethoscopes this product remains latex-free for allergy sensitive users. This stethoscope comes with a 3 year warranty and is available in over 6 different colors.
3. 3M Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope
The 3M Littmann Master Cardiology Stethoscope is equipped with one of Littmann’s most advanced handcrafted chest-pieces to provide the highest acoustic performance among their devices. This design utilizes a single sided diaphragm that makes it easy to tune the sound frequency without having to flip over the chest-piece.
A special-procedures adaptor (which is included with the stethoscope) provides better versatility for those who work with a wide range of patients, from infants to pediatrics.
In addition to the premium chest-piece and special-procedures adaptor this stethoscope also features a two-in-one dual-lumen design to eradicate any potential noise interference that may occur in a double tube design.
4. 3M Littmann Cardiology III Stethoscope
3M Littmann’s Cardiology III Stethoscope is the only stethoscope with a dual-sided chest-piece in their cardiology line and is available for those who prefer a bell / diaphragm combination over a single sided diaphragm chest-piece.
This stethoscope comes with two tunable diaphragms that are designed to respond with a simple pressure change, so that you can adjust the sound frequency to your liking.
For those who work in pediatric’s the open bell design allows for optimal low frequency listening, and a non-chill bell sleeve is included to ensure patient comfort during examinations.
As with their other cardiology stethoscope this one offers a two-in-one tube design with a dual lumen neck to eliminate noise interference and provide better sound auscultation. If you work with a wide range of patients and want a dual-headed stethoscope that can get the job done than this is an excellent option.
5. 3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope
The 3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope is a premium device for Doctors that need/want a high quality stethoscope with a two-sided chest piece, instead of a single sided diaphragm. It features a single-piece tunable diaphragm with a smooth surface that’s easy to attach for work or detach for cleaning.
The pediatric side of the device can be converted to a traditional open bell for those who need to listen to more specific sounds. The tubing of the stethoscope has also been improved to increase its lifespan and resistance to oils and alcohols, as well as improving its stain resistance.
Aside from the raspberry color featured here this device also comes in over a dozen other color variations. If your typical day involves performing general physical assessments of your patients and you’re looking for a quality stethoscope that’s efficient and effective then be sure to check out 3M Littmann’s Classic III Stethoscope.
6. 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope
Last, but not least on our list is the 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope, which as the name implies is designed to be light and easy to wear throughout the day. This stethoscope is designed with a tunable tear-drop shaped diaphragm that’s simple to fit under a blood pressure cuff and can be easily adjusted with a simple pressure change.
As with the other stethoscopes in this list the headset is anatomically designed to rest easily in the ear canal at an optimal angle for receiving reliable and clear acoustic sounds.
A non chill rim and diaphragm is also incorporated into the stethoscope to keep the chest-piece from being cold when applied to your patients skin, so that they don’t become jarred from the discomfort of a cold chest-piece. If you’re looking for an entry-level stethoscope from 3M Littmann than this device may be a good investment for you.
How to choose the best stethoscope for your profession
When it comes to choosing the right device for your work it is important to determine what type of patients you’ll be dealing with primarily and what type of work you’ll be performing on a daily basis.
Stethoscopes come in many different varieties and each is designed to either focus on a particular type of individual or be used as a solution for a wide range of age groups and medical conditions.
If you deal with patients of all ages and sizes then you may be better off investing in a premium stethoscope that provides good overall sound auscultation and frequency adjustment.
What type of patients do you treat?
- Infants (neonatal care)
- Pediatric patients
By purchasing a device that works well in your field of expertise you’ll be sure that you can get the most out of your stethoscope for the patients you treat.
Another important factor to consider is the price of the device as the materials, build quality, sound auscultation and brand name can all impact its final cost.
Knowing your budget in advance can help you focus on the several devices that will work best for you, while eliminating those that may offer fancy extras but aren’t necessary or beneficial.
Don’t spend anymore than you have to for a quality stethoscope, however don’t go cheap either as you may sacrifice build and sound quality in the process.
Once you’ve selected several stethoscopes that you like it’s time to narrow down your choices until you find the one that’s right for you.
One of the best ways to do that is to look up and read online customer reviews.
Websites such as amazon offer hundreds, or even thousands of reviews of most stethoscopes sold on the market.
These customer reviews allow you to identify potential benefits or flaws that a stethoscope may have and can help you pinpoint some things that you may not have considered such as the diaphragms shape and how it interacts with the blood pressure cuff, the durability and quality of the materials, hypoallergenic materials or the general comfort of wearing the device throughout the day.
It can also help you identify whether or not the device is being charged at a fair price for what it’s supposed to do.
On a side note you’ll want to be careful about the reviews that you read online and make sure they are authentic.
If the website you visit has a verified or confirmed stamp of approval on the customer review than you can consider it a more valid review as it has been vetted by the company.
You can also click on the reviewers to see what other products they’ve reviewed so that you can determine whether or not they are trustworthy.
Lastly, use your intuition when taking advice or opinions from customer reviews you see online, in many cases you can point out the fakes and separate them from the honest ones.
The final thing you can do to help you choose a proper medical stethoscope is to ask those who work in the same field as you what they use and why they like it.
By checking with other professionals that have been using stethoscopes for years you’ll be able to gain some additional insights into which ones may provide you with the best overall solution for your work.
If you’re lucky they may even let you try theirs out or borrow it so that you can make a more informed decision.
Just make sure you replace the ear tips if they do let you use it.
Narrowing down your choices:
- Determine your primary needs based on your profession and area of expertise
- Consider factors that are important to you such as the weight, materials, chest-piece, sound quality and design
- Set a realistic budget (too cheap and you sacrifice quality, too expensive and you may pay for features you don’t need)
- Use online reviews to identify the potential pros and cons of each device
- Speak with coworkers and fellow doctors to see what stethoscopes they use and prefer
Where to shop for your stethoscope
There are variety of places that sell stethoscopes both online and at physical locations.
The price of a stethoscope will depend largely on its features, its brand and where you choose to purchase the stethoscope from.
In most cases you can expect to pay between $50 – $150 for a quality stethoscope, however there are also less expensive options that are great for beginners or those who work in general fields and don’t necessarily need a high end stethoscope.
You can research and purchase a stethoscope on popular eCommerce websites such as Amazon.com, eBay or Overstock.com, however there are also a number of dedicated medical websites that provide a variety of stethoscope brands and models such as Allheart, and Scrubs and Beyond.
If you’d prefer to go a more direct route you can find direct online stores that sell their own personal stethoscopes directly such as Littmann, 3M and MDF Instruments, all of which are brands that make and sell their own products.
One of the best online websites for researching and buying stethoscopes is Amazon.com due to their huge customer base that often leaves comments and opinions about the products they purchase.
Reading “confirmed purchase” reviews and looking at the best sellers is a great way to narrow down your stethoscope choices and get specific insights into what makes a particular stethoscope a great or horrible experience.
Even if you choose to purchase a stethoscope on another website you should consider the power of reviewing the product on a site such as Amazon so that you can get some good feedback before making your purchase.
If you’d rather purchase a stethoscope at a physical store there are a variety of popular stores that also provide stethoscopes for sale.
Some of these stores may include Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Staples and Office Depot.
One of the easiest ways to find a local store that sells stethoscopes is to do a quick online search through Google or your preferred search engine.
Once you get to the search engine type in “stethoscopes” followed by “store near me” or just “near me”, and you should be able to pull up a number of stores that either sell them at their physical location or offer stethoscopes online and have a store pick up service.
While there are a decent number of physical stores that sell stethoscopes you’ll always want to call up and check with them first to see if they offer the product at the location before you get in your car and go for a long drive as some websites might not make it clear that they only offer the product online.
If you can’t find a stethoscope at a smaller psychical store near you then check with your local large retailers and see if they carry them or can suggest a place that does, and also see if they do allow for in store pick up/return if you make a purchase online, which can make things easier for you if you’re apprehensive about or unfamiliar with online sales.
You may even be able to make the purchase at the physical store and have it shipped to them rather than buying it through their online counterpart.
If you do choose to purchase through a physical store also make sure you do your research about the stethoscope before you purchase it at the store.
Make sure the stethoscope is from a well respected brand and has decent reviews from those who have purchased it through websites such as Amazon or on trusted blogs that have reviewed the stethoscope.
You may also be able to get recommendations from coworkers and friends that have purchased their stethoscope at a physical store.
Buying tips and advice
When it’s time for you to purchase a stethoscope don’t be afraid to shop around and do some comparison checking.
In some cases you may find that the same stethoscope is marked at a completely different price because of where it’s being sold or because of who’s selling it.
Amazon.com is a great starting place for doing price, model and feature comparisons as many different brands sell their own products on the website, which provides a level of competition that can positively impact the price for the buyer.
When reading or basing your opinion on a review that has been written about a product look for reviews that seem genuine and well thought out.
As stated earlier check for verified purchases and reviewers that have a good review history as it is possible for some people to leave fake positive reviews.
In fact you can filter out products by their rating and whether or not they’ve been verified so play around with the review tools to get the most accurate overview of how well a product really is performing.
Also be sure to read the negative reviews of the products and see if the same common issues keep coming up, and if they do determine if it is a deal breaker or just a minor nuisance.
Some people might not like the stethoscope simply because it doesn’t come in a color they like.
Others may like the stethoscopes color but have an issue with the adjustablility of the diaphragm or not like the single-head/dual-head functionality of their stethoscope, so make sure you find out what it is that they don’t like in order to make a more informed purchasing decision.
You may end up realizing that the complaints others have about the stethoscope may not be as big a deal to you as it is to them, and the features that it has significantly outweighs its faults.
Lastly, check to see if the seller or manufacturer offers a warranty or satisfaction guarantee for the stethoscope in order to limit your personal risk when buying their product.
Some manufacturers may even offer a limited lifetime warranty which will cover specific parts of the stethoscope and/or offer free lifetime tuning as long as you own it, which can come in really handy and save you money down the line in replacement costs.
As far as deciding which stethoscope is right for you ask yourself these important questions to help you narrow down your decision.
- What type of work will I be doing? (EMT/paramedic, emergency care, pediatric care, doctors office, cardiology)
- Do I have trouble hearing sounds? (Maybe an electronic stethoscope is a good choice)
- Is price a factor and how much am I willing to spend on a good stethoscope?
- Is the weight of the stethoscope important?
- What type of options do I need with my stethoscope? (bell, diaphragm, dual-head, tune-ability, electronic)
- What would be a deal breaker for me in regards to buying a stethoscope?
By asking these questions you’ll be able to narrow down your search to the factors that are most important to you so that you can make a more satisfying buying decision.
Knowing what you need/want in a stethoscope prior to buying one can save you both time and energy, which is always a good thing.