Best Stethoscopes

The 10 Best Stethoscopes for Nurses 2018

Here is the issue with stethoscope reviews online and in general. Who really buys more than one? I mean, you might have the doctors and other high level medical practitioners who have gone through a few over the length of their career, but really once you buy one that’s typically it.

They don’t break or wear and tear and it’s cheaper to replace parts than buy a new one. What this means is that you’ve got a lot of people with opinions about one single model of stethoscope, but very few people have used them all or even a few different ones. Even in that case they usually stick to one brand. So how can we solve this issue?

The 10 Best Selling Stethoscopes:

SaleBestseller No. 1
MDF Acoustica Deluxe Lightweight Dual Head Stethoscope - All Black (MDF747XP-BO)
500 Reviews
MDF Acoustica Deluxe Lightweight Dual Head Stethoscope - All Black (MDF747XP-BO)
  • Handcrafted Since 1971 | Free-parts-for-life Program | Lifetime Warranty | Latex-free |
  • ALL-PURPOSE LIGHTWEIGHT STETHOSCOPE > Durable, convenient, lightweight, and high sound performance
  • Includes 3 pairs of MDF ComfortSeal eartips: Small, Regular, and Large. Eartips are included in our Free-parts-for-life Program
SaleBestseller No. 2
Vorfreude Cardiology Stethoscope Lifetime Replacement Guarantee (27' Black) Bonus: Name Tag, Classic...
67 Reviews
Vorfreude Cardiology Stethoscope Lifetime Replacement Guarantee (27" Black) Bonus: Name Tag, Classic...
  • VORFREUDE LIFETIME REPLACEMENT WARRANTY on every purchased Stethoscope, including Diaphragm and Ear Pieces. Complete replacement kit shipped by Amazon at our cost. No return required!
  • GERMAN ENGINEERED premium quality means the same dimensions as the LM Master Cardiology while over 5% lighter, and covered diaphragm edges have a mirror finish to prevent LM corrosion and pitting.
  • COMPLETE KIT with Included bonuses; four replacement ear tips, diaphragm inside replacements carry case, free Vorfreude pupil pen light and two AAA batteries. An excellent medical gift that lasts a...
Bestseller No. 3
3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope, Matte Chestpiece, Black Tube, 27 inch, 5803
1658 Reviews
3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope, Matte Chestpiece, Black Tube, 27 inch, 5803
  • Two-sided chestpiece with tunable diaphragms on both the adult and pediatric sides.
  • Single-piece tunable diaphragm is easy to attach, and easier to clean because its surface is smooth without crevices.
  • Pediatric side converts to a traditional open bell by replacing the single-piece diaphragm with a non-chill rim.
Bestseller No. 4
Everdixie USA Dual Head Stethoscope, Pink
1615 Reviews
Everdixie USA Dual Head Stethoscope, Pink
  • Pink
  • Dual Head
  • Great for Nurses
SaleBestseller No. 5
3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope, Black Tube, 28 inch, 2450
3581 Reviews
3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope, Black Tube, 28 inch, 2450
  • Reliable and clear acoustic response and light weight combine to make this an ideal entry-level instrument
  • Tunable diaphragm responds with a simple pressure change to capture low and high-frequency sounds
  • Tear-drop shape for easy fit under blood pressure cuff
SaleBestseller No. 6
Ever Ready First Aid Dual Head Stethoscope, Black
1615 Reviews
Bestseller No. 7
3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope, Caribbean Blue Tube, 28 inch, 2452
4262 Reviews
3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope, Caribbean Blue Tube, 28 inch, 2452
  • Provides reliable acoustic performance for taking blood pressure readings and making limited physical assessments of adult patients.
  • Tunable diaphragm responds with a simple pressure change to capture low and high-frequency sounds
  • Tear-drop shape for easy fit under blood pressure cuff
SaleBestseller No. 8
3M Littmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope, Black Tube, 28 inch, 2201
1165 Reviews
3M Littmann Classic II S.E. Stethoscope, Black Tube, 28 inch, 2201
  • High acoustic sensitivity in a dual-sided chestpiece combines with durable, compact design to deliver versatile auscultation and rugged dependability
  • Tunable diaphragm responds with a simple pressure change to capture low and high-frequency sounds without the need to turn over the chestpiece
  • Anatomically designed headset is angled to meet the path of the ear canal and provide optimal listening
SaleBestseller No. 9
MDF® Dual Head Lightweight Stethoscope - All Black (MDF747-BO)
475 Reviews
MDF® Dual Head Lightweight Stethoscope - All Black (MDF747-BO)
  • Handcrafted Since 1971 | Lifetime Warranty | Free-Parts-for-Life Program | Latex-Free
  • ECONOMY DUAL-HEAD STETHOSCOPE > Reliable functionality
  • LIGHTWEIGHT, HIGH SOUND PERFORMANCE
SaleBestseller No. 10
3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope, Lilac Tube, 28 inch, 2453
4262 Reviews
3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope, Lilac Tube, 28 inch, 2453
  • Provides reliable acoustic performance for taking blood pressure readings and making limited physical assessments of adult patients.
  • Tunable diaphragm responds with a simple pressure change to capture low and high-frequency sounds
  • Tear-drop shape for easy fit under blood pressure cuff , Chestpiece Size : 2.12 Inch

Stethoscope Buying Guide:

The best way to handle these types of issues is to sort out the non-sense of brand loyalty, people talking just to hear themselves talk, people inflating numbers or giving low numbers for silly reasons, etc. So what we’ve done here is talk to all of our friends who work in the industry. We are personally friends and family with nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, CDC workers, and doctors in Homeland Security. Heck, we even know some veterinarians! Basically, we personally know and trust their opinions on their specific stethoscopes. This is how we’ve constructed the individual reviews.

But there is another way, which is to collect data from reviews across the internet and do some math magic to find the outlying data points, which can subsequently be ignored. What that leaves us with is personal testimony and averages from non-personal self-reports online.

Why Even Collect And Sort Stethoscope Reviews?

That’s a great question, and the answer is that… it’s personal. Not personal in the sense that we can’t tell you, but personal as in we wasted a lot of time and even some money trying to buy our first stethoscopes. We’d have been way better off to have simply bought the rights one the first time, but the information wasn’t out there and available. That is why we are doing this. We like to pass it forward. Just like why we joined the health care industry. It just makes us feel good to help.

What are the Qualities Investigated in the Stethoscopes:

When digging into why each of these instruments may be considered the best or at least a quality purchase, we want to know specific details, such as the following:

  • Weight
  • Diaphragm Size
  • Tubing Length
  • Bell & Rim Details
  • Chestpiece Material
  • and more…

Each of these details carries a certain significance depending on the task. If you buy a stethoscope that’s too heavy, it will be an inconvenience. Some people like to wear theirs around their neck when they know they will need access to it again in a few minutes. If it’s too heavy, that can be annoying and irritable to your skin and muscles.

Below is a discussion on each quality I personally look for in a stethoscope.

Visual Appearance

Obviously, nobody wants to run around working with a piece of crap visually.  If you’re going to use this thing daily and be seen with it, you want to represent yourself as someone who cares about his or her job.  Think about how far this impact can go.  It can change the way your superiors think about you and change your chance for advancement and promotion.  I’m not kidding!  So at very least, buy a stethoscope that looks good.

The Weight

This device is going to be hanging off of your neck and sticking into your ears.  You don’t want it to be ridiculously heavy.  Even if you don’t wear it around your neck, but put it in a stethoscope holder when not in use, you don’t want it pulling on your waistband either.  A good weight is around 6 ounces, which about 180 grams.  Just above or below that is considered good.  Anything much higher is just annoying, and much lower and it’s probably made out of plastic.

Diaphragm Width

One of the metrics related to stethoscopes that directly affects the way it functions is the width of the diaphragm.  The sensitivity grows as the diameter of the diaphragm grows.  The cheaper and lower quality stethoscopes have diaphragms around 1.38 inches, which is about 3.5 centimeters.  The good ones come in right around 1.7 inches or 4.3 centimeters.  Here, you aren’t going to struggle hearing what you need to hear.  It also goes to say that the rest of the device will be of high quality as well, which will help you hear even better.

Length of the Stethoscope

Now, when I mention the length of a stethoscope, I’m talking about the measurement from the ear pieces all the way down to the bell when stretched out fully.  This matters because if a stethoscope is not long enough, you’ll find yourself bending over constantly, or getting too close and breaking the personal bubble of your patient.  Plus it’s just an annoyance to not work freely without contorting yourself to get the basics of your job done.  You may think the longest one is the best, but that’s not always the case either because it’ll be dangling around everywhere when not in use.  A good length is 27 inches or around 69 centimeters.  Too short is about 25 inches and too long is 30 inches plus.

Other Items to Consider

You want to consider the material being used in the construction of the stethoscope, whether or not you can replace certain pieces as they become used, and some other small considerations.

So Which is The Best Stethoscope?

Of course, the first question anyone is going to ask, and thus our reason for covering it separately is “What is the best stethoscope?” This gets asked as a heuristic, a short cut, to saving time. But what you’re going to do is lose time because this is such a subjective question. Every person answering this question is going to have different reasons for answering it in a specific way.

“Well, I like this one because it’s the most expensive so obviously it’s the best.” We all know this doesn’t always hold true. “Well, I like this one the best because it has the most sales on Amazon.” But we know people will usually opt for the cheapest one, which is usually not the best. So how can we properly answer this question?

Unless you want to break the bank on electronic stethoscopes or risk buying something priced higher as a marketing technique, what you should do is read the reviews people are leaving. They will offer qualitative information beyond just the quantitative information such as the average rating or number of purchases.

So…

I’m going to flat out go ahead and say that you aren’t going to go wrong picking up a Littmann stethoscope. They cost around double what you’re going to pay for a cheap piece of junk. But you’re going to replace that cheap piece of junk eventually. It’s going to hurt your ears. It’s going to break. You’re going to feel it and just get sick of using a crappy product. Save yourself the heartache, buyer’s remorse, time, and money by going ahead and buying the best stethoscope on the market up front. The Best Stethoscopes 2015

Which Littmann is the Best Stethoscope Then?

Littmann has rolled out many models as time has gone on, but the current one out there is the Littmann Cardiology III. That’s the one I’m going to go ahead and state is the best. No, it doesn’t have the most buyers. If Walmart carried one, it’d have the most buyers, but that doesn’t make it the best. If you want to take weight into account, the size of the diaphragm and tubing for isolative hearing, and the length of the contraption so you aren’t contorting yourself to get a reading, then you’re looking at the winner right here…

Other Popular Stethoscopes

Ultrascope Stethoscope

Ultrascope is not a type of stethoscope, but a company that produces them, much like Littmann and MDF. From reading reviews, looking at their website, asking my sister, and seeing the models they provide, I’ve formed an opinion on Ultrascope stethoscopes. I’m admitting that I haven’t used one, but just reporting the information out there. It seems like the target type of person that Ultrascope is going for is those that don’t require the highest quality model of stethoscope available, but still want something made very well. They also tend to be targeting the female nurse. Let me explain.

The Most Colorful Stethoscope Designs Ever!

The thing with Ultrascope is that their stethoscopes are by and large the most colorful batch I’ve ever seen! They look fantastic, but the bright and neon colors largely appeal to females. You’ll understand when you see some pictures below. One of their main marketing methods is to offer “bling,” which gives you lots of color options for the bell and tubing, engraving on the bell, all kinds of designs, zebra stripes, smiley faces, etc. This is the way they provide variation on their one model type. Let’s take a look at a few variations to save time.
Ultrascope Adult – Zebra Design

I just want to give you some ideas of what this company does. There are lots of colors of tubing and lots of designs you can get on the bell, from camouflage, glitter, abstract designs, nature scenes, and lots more.

Here is an example of a pink tubing with a zebra print design on the bell. On all of these, the tubing is 30 inches long, weight coming in at 5.8 ounces, and the diameter of the diaphragm and bell being 2 inches wide. You can click the picture if you want more details and color options and read about the technical specifications if that’s your sort of thing.
Ultrascope – Beach Design

What’s great with Ultrascope is that, like other great manufacturers, they offer a lifetime warranty on their stethoscopes. So really, in this industry, you want to buy the right one the first time you buy. This way you can always get replacement parts if anything breaks. You’ll never need to buy more than one. Ultrascope goes ahead and send you extra ear tips too, which is a time saver since we all tend to gunk up the ear pieces over time.

They claim the quality is good enough for cardiologists, veterinarians, family practitioners, and basically any other profession that might use a stethoscope. Anyone I’ve talked to or read a review from seems happy enough, but aware that a Littmann might be a better stethoscope. But then again, you get all these fun designs too so it all depends on what you want.

Go ahead and click one of the pictures and it’ll show you tons of variations of color, bell designs, and more you can pick from if you’re interested in an Ultrascope. You’ll definitely be unique in your workplace!

MDF Stethoscopes

MDF’s stethoscopes are qualitatively different than other brands. Some really dial in their diaphragms for sensitivity, which is one way of going about things, but MDF approached this issue differently. They simply made a nice loud stethoscope. But this is just one of the key differences. Let’s look at some other MDF stethoscope reviews and see how they perform individually.

MDF Sprague Rappaport

This particular stethoscope, the MDF Sprague Rappaport, along with most others of the MDF brand, are less expensive than say Littmanns. They term their diaphragms as ultra-sensitive, which is cool, but what they really mean is they tweaked the amplification high for noisy environments. That’s a bonus for these, however it could easily become a negative in quiet environments where you don’t need it that loud. Part of the loudness comes from the dual tubes instead of the single that splits off.

Each tube delivers pure audio to your ear pieces from the dual-output on the bell. They do boast soft tip earpieces as well. The most magnificent part is the “Free Parts For Life” Program. Once you buy, your’e in for life with free repair parts. The only time you’re going to leave the brand is if you want a higher quality stethoscope in general. One of the things I do like is all MDF’s come with identification tags so you can write your name on them. That way nobody can claim yours nor will you lose it amongst other similar models.

MDF ER Premier

This ER Premier stethoscope is cool. It boasts a dual head chestpiece and the acoustic valve stem is fully rotational, which means you aren’t going to start twisting your tubes up and having to untangle. Like above, this is another nice and loud stethoscope, made specifically for emergency room physicians.

This is the same stethoscope as their Classic Cardiology model once you make the Bell Conversion which is included. That’s pretty cool, right? The diaphragm here can capture sounds from 100 to 1000 Hz. This is down in the bass levels, right where the heartbeat thumps and the wheezing of the lungs is at. It’s got the soft eartips too. That’s really about all you need to know. It’s another quality loud option from MDF.

MDF MD One

I like the MDF MD One. Another quality offering from MDF featuring stainless steel construction and a dual head chestpiece. The fully rotating valve stem features a green dot for alignment so you know you’re getting the optimal sound through the tubing to your ears, which are seated comfortably in your ear, sealed from all outside sounds, with the soft eartips.

The bell is of the non-chill variety, which means your patient isn’t going to jerk away from cold metal, which shaves some time off of your job. You know when you repeat the same action hundreds of times a week, each second counts. You get the same Parts For Life program as well. The tubing on this one is special, because it’s thick, dense, and is non-stick, so it doesn’t rub against itself and make noise while you’re trying to listen. Look at the details by clicking the picture, including the weight, length, diaphragm width, and more.

Stethoscope Accessories

So, you’ve finally purchased your first stethoscope! Or maybe not, maybe you’ve been in the game for a long time but just got a new one and you’re ready to revolutionize your experience. Then you need some stethoscope accessories. There’s all kinds of things out there, but there are three main items that can enhance your experience. Let’s talk about them here! The three most fun and useful stethoscope accessories are: the light, the holder, and the cover.

Stethoscope Light

If you haven’t already, you will learn that not all rooms you will work in are well lit. Or perhaps you need to look down the back of a hospital gown and it’s dark in there. There’s no need to have a separate pocket or pen flashlight around. That’s just one more thing to lose that will come out of your own bill.

There is such a thing as a stethoscope light that attaches around the bell of your stethoscope so that the light is always handy and available. All you have to do is squeeze the sides to turn it on, use it, and then turn it back off. Digging around medicine cabinets or reading your charts as you write them in the dark while patients sleep has never been easier!

Stethoscope Holder

Here’s another classic. Let’s say you are the type of person who can’t stand wearing a stethoscope around your neck. Let’s face it, they aren’t built for this. There is no attention paid to making this comfortable because it’s simply not the function of a stethoscope. Some people put up with it, but screw that. Why not just spend the $10 bucks or less and snag a stethoscope holder?

This little device just clips to your waistband of your scrubs or belt. You slip the ear pieces of the stethoscope through the gap and then just slip the bell into the holder and it’s secure. Now your stethoscope will be at a hand’s reach away from you at all times and you don’t have to rub a raw spot on your neck and deal with it dangling and bumping into stuff all the time. If you’re a doctor, this just looks super professional. It’s like a fancy addition to your pager. Nurses can increase the level of respect they get and increase comfort and accessibility by using one of these bad boys. Grab one! They are so cheap there’s no reason not to do it.

Stethoscope Cover

There are many reasons to use one of these awesome sleeves. But first let me explain what it is. It’s a simple cloth sleeve you slip over your bell and it covers the tubing of your stethoscope. Sometimes, those can be cold. Or if you are treating children they can be intimidating. You can put fluffy animals over them like lions, panda bears, horses, dogs, and more. Imagine a blue elephant at the top and the diaphragm is at the end of the elephant’s trunk.

Kids love it! What kid doesn’t like dinosaurs, for instance? But you can also get thinner ones that are built strictly for comfort so you aren’t feeling plastic, rubber tubing against you. A stethoscope cover warms it up, brings a some color into the game, and helps you express yourself! You can’t beat it. There are also the kind that are just caps for your diaphragm to keep it safe.

They usually feature some quote on them about health, you know. If you have a holder, there’s no need for the cap kind. But you can get disposable caps so you don’t have to deal with cleaning or contaminating your diaphragm, which is cool if your job calls for that sort of thing.

 

Add comment

Subscribe for More!

Enter your email address to subscribe to House and Tech and receive notifications of awesome guides and reviews in your inbox.