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Stethoscopes can provide vital information about the heart, lungs, and key bodily functions. There are several available to buy online that can help shed light on a person’s health.

Medical News Today chooses stethoscopes that meet the following criteria where possible:

  • The number of heads: MNT chooses single- or dual-head designs so people can purchase according to their preferences.
  • Type of stethoscope: MNT features manual and digital stethoscopes.
  • Patient size: MNT selects stethoscopes suitable for adults, children, and infants.
  • Noise quality: MNT chooses stethoscopes that offer good acoustics.
  • Comfort: MNT selects stethoscopes that are comfortable for both the wearer and the receiver.
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Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best affordable: FriCARE Dual Head

  • List price: from around $22
  • Type: dual-head
  • Patient size: adult
  • Key feature: dual-head diaphragm and bell captures higher and lower frequencies

A low cost yet reportedly versatile option, this stethoscope features a dual-head diaphragm that can catch high and low frequencies. This may be especially beneficial for people who wish to use this product on adults and children.

To tune the diaphragm to different frequencies, a person just needs to adjust the pressure on the non-chill chest piece and rotate the flexible stem to use one of the sides. The smaller surface area is better for lower frequencies. The larger one is better for higher frequencies.

Other features include thick tubing that may make the stethoscope more durable and may reduce ambient sounds for a better listening experience. The matte finish may prevent stains and oils.

Additionally, FriCARE states it donates a portion of every purchase to charitable organizations, such as Doctors Without Borders.

This stethoscope is available in several matte colors, including black, pink, yellow, and gray.


  • durable, noise-canceling tubing is resistant to cracking and staining
  • no-chill rim to maximize patient comfort
  • some reviewers say the stethoscope is useful for livestock, domestic pets, and beehives
  • less expensive option


  • some reviewers state it is only suitable for home use, not clinician use
  • some reviewers say their scrubs stained the stethoscope
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Best bundle: MDF MD One Stainless Steel Stethoscope Bundle

  • List price: around $85
  • Type: dual-head
  • Patient size: adult
  • Key feature: lifetime warranty and free replacement parts

This stethoscope bundle has a durable, waterproof carrying case that keeps the product secure. This may be a good option for someone who is looking for a stethoscope they can bring while traveling.

The stethoscope itself has a dual-head design with a diaphragm and bell that people can use to hear high and low frequencies. The company states the stainless steel construction of the stethoscope makes it acoustically superior to other similar products.

Additional features include patented Acoustic Pyramid Chambers, SafetyLock Eartip adaptors, and ErgonoMax Headset.

The tubing is latex-free and reportedly durable. Another advantage of this product is that the company offers a lifetime warranty and free replacement parts. This makes it a good investment for people who intend to use a stethoscope for a long period.

Each purchase comes with three sizes of ear tips, an extra diaphragm, and an ID tag.


  • free replacement parts and lifetime warranty
  • comes with a carry case for ease of use while traveling
  • latex-free, making it suitable for people with a latex allergy


  • some reviewers say there is not enough noise isolation for use in loud environments
  • some reviewers say it was heavier than they expected, making it uncomfortable to wear for long periods
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Best acoustics: 3M Littmann Master Cardiology

  • List price: around $285
  • Type: single-head
  • Patient size: adult
  • Key feature: dual-lumen tubing to reduce noise

This single-sided stethoscope may be a good option for people who want the most noise isolation.

Littman states this stethoscope has the best acoustics of any of its products.

It has a tunable diaphragm for high and low frequencies. People must gently adjust the pressure on the chest piece to tune the head. It also has dual-lumen tubing, which is two sound paths in one tube. This helps eliminate the rubbing noise people may experience with other products.

The stethoscope also has angled earbuds that align with the ear canals, which may increase comfort, especially for those who are using stethoscopes several times a day.


  • many reviewers state the acoustics are excellent
  • durable construction
  • people do not need to flip the stethoscope head to hear different frequencies


  • reviewers state it is heavy
  • a more expensive option
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Best for different bell and diaphragm sizes: Omron Sprague Rappaport

  • List price: around $35
  • Type: dual-head
  • Patient size: adult
  • Key feature: different bell and diaphragm sizes

This stethoscope comes with three sizes of open bells and two sizes of diaphragms, which may help people hear different frequencies.

People can also benefit from two earpieces, although the manufacturer does not state whether the earpieces are the same or different sizes. The tubing is latex-free. The chest piece is chrome-plated.

It is currently only available in black.


  • comes with multiple-sized bells and diaphragms
  • latex-free, making it suitable for people with a latex allergy
  • some reviewers state it is suitable for pediatric use
  • some reviewers state it has a clear sound


  • some customers say it is not very durable
  • the chrome-plated head may be cold to the touch
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Best for everyday use: 3M Littmann Classic III

  • List price: around $142
  • Type: dual-head
  • Patient size: adult and pediatric
  • Key feature: removable non-chill rim

This stethoscope may be most suitable for people looking for a product they can use daily on a range of people.

The stethoscope has a dual-head design to help people identify high and low frequencies. In addition, the bell side is smaller and suitable for pediatric use. People can convert the head to a traditional open bell by placing the non-chill rim on top.

Littmann states this stethoscope is durable and lightweight. It also comes with one write-on and one engravable ID tag for easier identification.


  • comes with large and small self-sealing ear tips
  • suitable for pediatric and adult use
  • comes with ID tags


  • may not offer as clear a sound as other products
  • a more expensive option
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Best digital stethoscope: 3M Littmann CORE Digital Stethoscope

  • List price: around $350
  • Type: digital
  • Size: adult
  • Key feature: can record and share sounds

According to the manufacturer, this stethoscope offers up to 40 times amplification, expanding a person’s ability to hear subtle sounds.

The stethoscope is digital, which means it connects to Eko software. This enables people to see, record, and share sounds.

People can switch between digital and mechanical listening profiles depending on their needs and preferences. The stethoscope has a dual-head design, which allows people to tune in to higher and lower frequencies.


  • the digital stethoscope allows people to record sounds with the companion software
  • dual-head design with open and closed bells
  • according to some reviewers, it makes bruit sounds clearer and more audible


  • some customers say it is less flexible than typical stethoscopes
  • a more expensive option
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Best for children: 3M Littmann Classic II Pediatric

  • List price: around $125
  • Type: dual-head
  • Patient size: pediatric
  • Key feature: has a smaller diaphragm for children

This dual-headed stethoscope has an open bell and a 3.3-centimeter floating diaphragm with a non-chill rim. The smaller bell and diaphragm may make this product especially beneficial for use on infants and children.

The tubing does not contain natural rubber latex. It only weighs 105 grams, making it a lightweight choice. Other comfort features include soft-sealing ear tips that align with the ear canal and help reduce background sound.

This stethoscope is available in various colors, including black, blue, raspberry, and red. People can choose whichever color suits their personal style. Infants and children may be more comfortable around the brighter-colored options.


  • lightweight
  • does not contain natural rubber latex
  • available in a range of colors


  • some reviewers state the tubing cracks after 18–24 months of use
  • it has single-lumen tubing, which may increase rubbing noise
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The following table compares the stethoscopes in this article on price, patient size, and features.

List priceTypePatient sizeKey feature
FriCAREfrom around $22dual-headadultthe dual-head design captures higher and lower frequencies
MDF MD ONEaround $85dual-headadultlifetime warranty and free replacement parts
3M Littmann Master Cardiologyaround $285single-headadultdual-lumen tubing to reduce noise
Omronaround $35dual-headadultdifferent bell and diaphragm sizes
3M Littmann Classic IIIaround $142dual-headadult and pediatricremovable non-chill rim
3M Littmann COREaround $350digitaladultcan record and share sounds
3M Littmann Classic II Pediatricaround $125dual-headpediatrichas a 3.3-cm diaphragm for children

When buying a stethoscope, people may wish to consider:

  • Price: Basic stethoscopes will cost less than products with extra noise cancellation, replaceable heads, and digital features.
  • Sound quality: It is important to purchase a stethoscope that allows people to hear the sounds they need to listen to.
  • Durability: Cracked tubing can make it difficult to listen to sounds accurately. People may wish to read customer reviews to ensure the product they are buying contains durable materials.
  • Comfortable ear tips: People who intend to use stethoscopes several times a day may wish to ensure the product they buy has comfortable and ergonomic ear tips. Ear tips that are not soft and do not align with the ear canal may cause discomfort.

There are two main types of stethoscopes: manual and digital. Manual stethoscopes are the classic ones people often see during practitioner appointments. They may be single- or dual-headed.

Dual-head stethoscopes have a diaphragm side and a bell side. People can use one or the other to hear different frequencies better. Single-head stethoscopes require a person to put more or less pressure on the chest piece to hear high or low frequencies.

Digital stethoscopes, on the other hand, record the sounds a person hears. This can be especially beneficial for practitioners who believe having a recording on a patient’s medical notes may lead to quicker and more relevant care.

Stethoscopes are also available in different sizes. Pediatric stethoscopes often have smaller diaphragms and bells that are more suitable for infants and children. Adult stethoscopes may have larger heads.

Here we answer some common questions about stethoscopes.

Will a stethoscope hear a fetal heartbeat?

Some sensitive stethoscopes may hear a fetal heartbeat. However, there are specialized fetal stethoscopes that manufacturers design specifically for babies in the womb. Physicians may use these during labor if there is a risk of infant mortality.

How does a stethoscope work?

Stethoscope heads work as an amplifier. They make it easier for healthcare professionals to hear the sounds hearts, lungs, and other organs make.

Learn more about different lung sounds here.

How do you clean a stethoscope?

Littmann, a popular manufacturer of stethoscopes, states that people should use 70% isopropyl alcohol to wipe-clean stethoscopes. It is important not to use hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer can damage the stethoscope material.

If a stethoscope has a removable head, people can remove and wipe the components before leaving them to dry and reassemble.

Stethoscopes are a useful tool for to listen to organs, such as the heart and lungs. Healthcare professionals may use these instruments to help diagnose conditions or monitor symptoms.

There are several stethoscopes available to purchase online. People may wish to consider whether they need a higher-end instrument that may cost more or a more basic model that, while inexpensive, may need replacing sooner.