Best Stethoscope of 2018

Best Stethoscope 2018 / 19 – Complete Reviews with Comparisons

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Are you looking for the best stethoscope? If so, it’s imperative that you understand that while these tools seem simple, they are critical in the medical field and used daily to help with patient diagnosis and to assist medical professionals with hearing any irregularities in the sound of your heart or lungs.

We wanted to help ensure you purchase the best equipment possible, so we created a review that’s comprehensive with buyer’s guide and more.

Comparison Chart

3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope

Clinical Grade Dual-Head Stethoscope by GreaterGoods

MDF Rose Gold MD One Stainless Steel Premium Dual Head Stethoscope

Vive Precision Stethoscope Dual Head Diaphragm Bell

RA Bock Single Head Cardiology Stethoscope

Stethoscope Reviews

1. 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope

The Littmann brand is a subsidiary of the parent company 3M, and due to the innovative features they incorporate in their products, Littmann has become world-renown for their stethoscopes, and are often the first choice for medical professionals. The company provides next-generation tuning with their stethoscopes and promises nothing but the highest quality materials that aid with extending the life of the device. While Littman offers many types of stethoscopes along with other medical devices, one of their top sellers is the 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope.

Product Highlights

Given the quality of the 3M Littman Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope, the price is incredible. It’s incredibly reliable and made of high-quality materials that you typically find in the most top-of-the-line brands. Paying attention to quality and cost has made the Littmann Classic one of the most popular stethoscopes on the market.

The device itself has high acoustic sensitivity and includes both a diaphragm and a bell on the chest piece. It is also equipped with a tunable feature that allows you to listen to both high and low frequency with a simple pressure change. Additionally, the tubing is made from latex-free, high-quality rubber to ensure that there are no allergic reactions, while the headset is anatomically designed to provide a comfortable fit in the ear canal.

What's to like about the 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope

The tunable diaphragm is a key selling feature with the 3M Littmann Classic III and is well worth it for those who work in various departments. We love the versatility of the product and the fact that it is customizable. You can make it your own with the help of the colorful tubing covers.

The price itself is fantastic as well and geared towards a low- to mid-range price line for a product that functions as a professional, high-quality stethoscope.

What's not to like about the 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope

While the stethoscope is customizable, we found that when using any other color but black, the tubing stained quickly. We also found that the earpieces occasionally came loose, and it’s not as comfortable as other stethoscopes unless used with earpieces you are pleased with.

We also weren’t fans of how long it is. Of course, that all depends on the person, but a longer tube is more beneficial.

PROS

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    Acoustics are clear
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    Tubing is made with 3M’s next-generation tubing
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    Includes a five-year warranty from 3M Littmann

CONS

  • Lighter tubings stain and appear dirty
  • Earpieces occasionally come loose and can be uncomfortable
  • Short length

2. Greater Goods Clinical Grade Dual-Head Stethoscope

Greater Goods has a name that perfectly represents what the company stands for, and that is to create tools that aid in healthcare and healthy lifestyles. In addition to producing healthcare tools, they also focus on making it possible for their consumers to get their hands on kitchen and other equipment that helps lead to a healthy lifestyle. The brand itself does good by donating portions of their kitchen, home, and healthcare product to charities.

Purchasing healthcare products through Greater Goods help the Love146 organization provide much-needed medical care to those who have survived human trafficking. Greater Goods has an even better story, and we wanted to give them a chance by reviewing the Greater Goods Clinical Grade Dual-Head Stethoscope.

Product Highlights

The Greater Goods Clinical Grade Dual-Head Stethoscope was designed with versatility in mind to make it more convenient and comfortable for healthcare professionals to use in a busy environment and even at home. The diaphragm is tunable, making it possible to listen to both low- and high-frequency sounds by adjusting the pressure. There is also an open indicator dot on the stem.

The non-chill rim makes it feel more comfortable for your patients, ultimately easing their anxiety. The earpieces are tightly sealed, and the headset is adjustable so that you can customize your stethoscope to your ideal comfort level.

There is a single-tubing, made from non-latex rubber, which lowers noise interruption. It also comes with replacement ear tips and an extra diaphragm.

What's to like about the Greater Goods Clinical Grade Dual-Head Stethoscope

One of the best things about the stethoscope is that when you purchase it, you know that a portion of the proceeds is for a good cause. So, not only are you getting the product that you need to do your job, but you’re helping others recover from traumatic events. We also loved that it comes with replacement pieces, and the customer service was second to none, as all the questions that we had got answered quickly.

What's not to like about the Greater Goods Clinical Grade Dual-Head Stethoscope

The Greater Goods Clinical Grade Dual-Head Stethoscope is a bit complicated to use. The indicator dot has to be in the correct position, or the device won’t work the way it should. You’re also going to struggle with hearing a heartbeat.

We also don’t like how heavy the stethoscope is; the last thing anyone wants is to carry around a weight on their neck all day. It was also too uncomfortable in the ear canal.

PROS

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    Great customer service
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    A philanthropic company that donates a portion of sales
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    Clear readings with minimal interference

CONS

  • Heavier than necessary
  • Earpieces fell off (though company replaces them if you don’t have extra)
  • Uncomfortable to wear if the tubing is slightly bent

3. MDF Instruments Premium Dual Head Stethoscope

MDF Instruments has been manufacturing quality healthcare products since 1971. Over the decades, they have become internationally known for producing some of the most accurate, beautiful, and long-lasting stethoscopes with unmatched designs.

MDF Instruments follows a strict, long line of core values that help with maintaining not just the integrity of the brand, but the integrity of their products. They aim to keep their customers happy by producing reliable devices that help doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals take proper care of their patients. The MDF Instruments Premium Dual Head Stethoscope is one of the most aesthetically pleasing on the market, so we took the chance to review it.

Product Highlights

The MDF Instruments Premium Dual Head Stethoscope screams luxury and fashion with its rose gold design and white tubing. What is better is that it’s not just pretty; it works, too!

The stethoscope provides crisp and clear acoustics that allows you to hear both low- and high-frequency sounds with the dual head. Keep in mind that MDF Instruments recommends that you use the bell to focus on the lower frequency sounds. The stethoscope comes with lifetime support and encourages consumers and their team to continue doing good with their “crafting wellness” commitment that brings medical professionals and organizations to over 90 countries.

What's to like about the MDF Instruments Premium Dual Head Stethoscope

There’s no doubt to anyone that the optimal selling point of the MDF Instruments Premium Dual Head Stethoscope is the incredible aesthetic that stands out no matter where you are. Outside of that, we found that the customer service was fantastic and we like the commitment and morals that MDF has been standing by for nearly 50 years. We also love that it comes with multiple sizes of earbuds, so you’re more likely to find the most comfortable fit for you.

What's not to like about the MDF Instruments Premium Dual Head Stethoscope

Although the stethoscope is very pretty and gets a lot of good comments, it is cumbersome due to the tubing being so thick. We also noticed that the rose gold finish picked up fingerprints and scratches easily. Likewise, the white tubing picks up everything, causing the stethoscope to appear dirty.

PROS

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    Very beautifully designed and eye-catching
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    Comes with multiple sizes of soft ear tips and a replacement diaphragm
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    Provides clear acoustics

CONS

  • Quite heavy
  • Gets dirty and chips easily

4. Vive Precision Pink Dual Head Stethoscope

The Vive Precision brand operates under the parent company Vive Health. The company has committed to providing healthcare professionals with reliable equipment at affordable prices, and they want you to be proud of using Vive Precision products. They work hard to uniquely design and develop all of their products with innovative methods, and the Vive Precision Dual Head Stethoscope is just one of the many that they offer.

Product Highlights

The Vive Precision Dual Head Stethoscope has both a bell and a diaphragm that ensures you are capable of hearing both low- and high-frequency sounds that come from the lungs, bowel, and heart. The stethoscope can rotate at 180 degrees so that one side can get used at a time. The dual-head chest piece provides optimally great acoustics, while the soft, silicone ear tips reduce any noise interference for excellent clarity.

Vive Precision designed the stethoscope in a way that it is comfortable to carry, all while using high-quality materials such as stainless steel for the diaphragm and high-end rubber for the tubing. It also features a non-chill diaphragm for the patient’s comfort.

What's to like about the Vive Precision Pink Dual Head Stethoscope

We love that Vive Precision includes a carry case with the purchase of their stethoscope. It helps to ensure the tool remains clean when carrying it to and from work. The stethoscope itself is quite lightweight, and comes with an additional diaphragm, making it quick and easy to switch out if there are ever issues with the first.

What's not to like about the Vive Precision Pink Dual Head Stethoscope

We found that the tubing was a little too flexible, which made it susceptible to kinking. The earpieces themselves are quite tight, and when trying to replace them with another pair, we noticed difficulties finding a pair that fit appropriately. Additionally, the space between the earpieces is slanted and uncomfortable.

PROS

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    Properly designed with patient comfort in mind
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    Excellent acoustics with minimal noise interference
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    Vibrant and very affordable
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    Easy to carry around

CONS

  • High possible of kinking
  • Earbuds are very tight
  • Space between the headset is slanted and uncomfortable

5. R.A. Bock Diagnostics Pro Physician Single Head Stethoscope

R.A. Bock Diagnostics was founded by both an emergency room physician and a pediatrician. Their goal was to provide high-quality medical equipment at a price that wasn’t going to break the bank of the person acquiring it.

As the founders of the company thought back to their days at medical school, they came up with innovative ways to produce reliable medical tools. We wanted to review the R.A. Bock Diagnostics Pro Physician Single Head Stethoscope as a way to honor the founders who kept medical students in mind.

Product Highlights

The R.A. Bock Diagnostics Stethoscope is a fantastic entry-level product designed for the cardiology specialty but can be used in other departments, too. The company offers a lifetime warranty and provides a product that gives excellent value for the price.

It has thick, lumen tubing that assists with picking up low- and high-frequency sounds as well as provides insulation against background noise. The ear tips push over the binaural so that you won’t lose them without the need to screw them into place. The package comes with two additional sets of soft ear tips, two extra diaphragms, and two diaphragm retaining rings.

What's to like about the R.A. Bock Diagnostics Pro Physician Single Head Stethoscope

The stethoscope is made from high-quality stainless steel, rubber tubing, and includes extra pieces that make it worth more than what you pay for. We also like that the company doesn’t just think about money, but they also consider the fact that many medical students can’t afford to shell out hundreds for a stethoscope.

What's not to like about the R.A. Bock Diagnostics Pro Physician Single Head Stethoscope

We happened to notice that the metal arms of the stethoscope seem to twist easily, which causes it to go off center and become difficult to use. The thicker tubing does help to provide better sound quality, but it’s unfortunately quite heavy and becomes a burden when carrying it around.

PROS

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    Lifetime warranty
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    Excellent customer service
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    Great for medical students or those seeking an entry-level stethoscope
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    Clarity and acoustics are stable

CONS

  • The stethoscope can be sensitive
  • Bell and metal arms twist easily
  • Heavier than necessary

BUYER'S GUIDE

It’s very rare that you are going to find a medical professional without a stethoscope in their arsenal. Whether you’re a doctor, nurse, medical student, veterinarian, or even a mother looking to hear her unborn baby’s heartbeat, stethoscopes are widely used.

There is a large number of stethoscopes on the market, and many of them look the same. So, how do you know which one to buy if none of them seem different? This buyer’s guide is here to help teach you a little more about the crucial tool and help you know what to look for with your stethoscope.

Types of Stethoscopes

There are two types of stethoscopes on the market, and those are acoustic and electronic stethoscopes. The acoustic versions are the most commonly used stethoscopes. They’re the ones that you typically see hanging around a doctor’s neck.

Before we delve into the electronic, we are going to break down the two types of acoustic stethoscopes.

  • Single head stethoscopes: These are known for their clear, wide-frequency output. They are recommended for general use because they allow you to focus on high and low-frequency sounds such as listening to a patient’s breath.
  • Dual head stethoscopes: These stethoscopes are more versatile than their counters, and have two heads that consist of the bell and the diaphragm. The diaphragm (large, flat part) is recommended for high-frequency sounds. The bell (small, cup-like portion) is recommended for low-frequency sounds.

On the other hand, electronic stethoscopes are useful for those of you who like technology and the innovative features that it brings. Usually, electronic stethoscopes have more features that enable you to hear more noises than an acoustic stethoscope. Sometimes, you might find respiratory therapists using electronic stethoscopes.

Stethoscope Tube (Double or Single)

The tubing of a stethoscope, whether double or single, is the part of the device that transmits all of the sounds from the chest piece to the earpiece. When you purchase a stethoscope, you want to ensure that the tubing is made of high-quality materials, so you don’t experience any breakage. Some research has shown that single tubing is better for picking up sounds, as the sounds of the double tubing rubbing against each other can interfere with what you hear.

Material Used

Making sure that you purchase a stethoscope that’s made of the high-quality material is extremely important to your tool. You should look for a stethoscope that has a diaphragm and bell that’s made from durable titanium or stainless steel, and ensure they’re as smooth as possible.

The tubing itself should be made of high-quality, non-latex rubber or PVC plastic, so the sounds aren’t distorted by a kinked or bent tube. Additionally, your earpieces should be soft and designed with a material that’s made to provide comfort when resting in your ear canal.

Intended Use

Knowing where you’re going to use your stethoscope plays a significant part in choosing a stethoscope. It’s also critical that you understand your environment.

As an example, if you work in pediatrics and are using a stethoscope on children or babies, it’s best to look at dual-headed stethoscopes that have a small bell in addition to a diaphragm. If you are working in cardiology, it’s best to choose a cardiology stethoscope, which is widely known for its strong sound oscillation. Many nurses and doctors (both general physicians and specialists) turn to cardiology stethoscopes because of their frequency range and sound quality.

Many healthcare professionals also recommend electronic stethoscopes for those who intend to use their device in loud environments such as in emergency rooms or on an ambulance. The extra features help to enhance the sounds, making it easier to hear.

Stethoscope Chest Piece

The chest piece on your stethoscope should be made of titanium or stainless steel to ensure high quality. If you have a dual-head stethoscope, it consists of both the diaphragm and the bell.

The diaphragm is the larger, flat side of the chest piece that you place against the chest to listen to frequencies. The bell, which is the smaller end of the chest piece, is used to focus on low-frequency sounds and used mainly on children. If you have a single-head stethoscope, it consists of just the diaphragm.

It’s a great idea to purchase a stethoscope that enables you to replace the chest piece when they become worn or torn. Not only does this help with the environment, but it saves you money and extends the life of your stethoscope.

Stethoscope FAQs

How Does a Stethoscope Work?

Stethoscopes work by picking up the sounds and vibrations that the heart, lungs, and other parts of the human body make. The chest piece gets placed directly against the skin, over the area that you want to hear, and the sound is transmitted through the tubing, and then into the earpieces. The process of listening is called auscultation.

The diaphragm is the most common part that’s placed against the chest or back and used to pick up the sound. However, in some cases, the bell (found on dual-head stethoscopes) is used to pick up lower frequency sounds that the diaphragm might have difficulties picking up.

How to Replace Stethoscope Tubing?

When you purchase a stethoscope, the majority of them enable you to replace parts that become broken or unusable. If you notice the tubing to your stethoscope isn’t performing the way it should, it’s imperative that you change it as soon as possible. The tubing is what transfers the sound picked up from the chest piece to your ears, making it highly critical.

The first step in the process is to purchase new tubing; you can even find high-quality tubing in different colors and designs, which are frequently seen in pediatric departments. If you need assistance, follow these steps to replace the tubing of a basic stethoscope:

Remove the damaged tubing from the base of the chest piece and the base of the headset.

Firmly slide the rubber tubing of your replacement onto the chest piece base first, and follow it up with the headset.

Ensure that the tubing on the chest piece and headset is secured by tugging slightly.

We’ve also included a very brief video that displays how simple it is to replace the tubing.

How to Choose a Stethoscope?

Choosing a stethoscope isn’t a matter of just popping online and purchasing one. Some aspects need to get taken into consideration, such as the department and field that you work in. Depending on your situation, you should buy a stethoscope that works best for you.

Here are a few tips that we found when it comes to picking the best stethoscope for you:

  • Check your budget: The highest quality stethoscopes are costly, but can last for years. Check your budget to ensure you have the funds to buy one that’s costly. Otherwise, there are affordable alternatives.
  • Look at your department: When working in cardiology departments or louder areas such as emergency or on an ambulance, cardiology stethoscopes are recommended. If working in pediatrics, look for a pediatric stethoscope or one designed for specialty areas.
  • Ask your institution: Speak with the hospital or institution you work at to see if there are any specific requirements.
  • Consider weight: The thicker the tubing of your stethoscope, the heavier it’s going to be. If you know you’re going to move around a lot, lighter stethoscopes might be a better option for you.
  • Inspect the parts: Ensure that the parts of your stethoscope are made from high-quality materials that include titanium or stainless steel, durable non-latex rubber, and soft ear tips.
  • Check for replaceable parts: Ensuring that your stethoscope’s parts can get replaced when needed is highly efficient. Ear tips are frequently replaced, so having many on hand is beneficial.

How Long Do Stethoscopes Last?

Multiple factors come into play when trying to determine how long your stethoscope is going to last. The environments that you use it in and how often you use it are two of the most common reasons why stethoscopes wear and tear.

If you have a high-quality, higher-end stethoscope, there’s a solid chance that your stethoscope is going to last for years. If you purchase one of lower quality, you can still get optimal results, but they likely won’t last as long as they do with the more expensive versions.

Taking proper care of your device, cleaning it properly, and replacing the parts when needed are all ways to extend the life of your stethoscope. It’s also suggested that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to take care of your device. There are some instances wherein stethoscopes last for more than ten years.

What Is a Stethoscope?

A stethoscope is a medical device that’s used by medical professionals, medical students, nurses, veterinarians, and their staff, as well as expecting mothers; even kids use it as toys. The device is designed to transmit the high- and low-frequency sounds coming from the lungs, heart, and abdomen.

Doctors commonly use this equipment to help in the diagnostic process of illnesses, while respiratory therapists use it to listen for irregularities in breathing. On the other hand, expecting mothers use the tool to hear the heartbeat of their baby.

FINAL VERDICT

Picking a reliable stethoscope that’s going to last for a long time isn’t as easy as you might think. We did our best to test and review each stethoscope multiple ways.

We looked at acoustics and clarity against animals and humans for heart, bowel, and lung sounds. We also looked at the quality, materials, reputation of the brand, earpieces, and more to determine which option is the best of the five we selected.

If you are still looking for the best stethoscope, we recommend purchasing the 3M Littmann Classic III Monitoring Stethoscope. The company is exceptionally well-known, they have a solid reputation to back them up, and they are continuously coming up with unique features and ways to better the acoustic experiences on their products. Some Littman stethoscopes have been known to last for years, so they belong to the higher end models.

However, if you are looking for an alternative that offers some of the same great features, functions well, and does so at a fraction of the cost, look into the Greater Goods Clinical Grade Dual Head Stethoscope. Not only are you getting a reliable medical instrument, but you’re contributing to organizations in need.

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