Choose the Best 3M Littmann Stethoscope for Your Healthcare Career

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Buying Guide for

The Best 3M Littmann Stethoscope for Your Healthcare Career

There are many brands of stethoscopes used by doctors, and one of the most popular brands is the Littmann stethoscope. Millions of medical professionals across every medical specialty around the world use a Littmann stethoscope to help them assess, diagnose, and monitor their patients. The stethoscope is used by healthcare professionals so much that it symbolizes the medical profession. Decades of innovation have turned this simple medical device into an indispensable and powerful tool in medicine.

Stethoscope History

The history of the stethoscope goes back over 200 years. Auscultation was difficult before 1816. Auscultation is the process of listening to the sounds of the heart, lungs, and other internal organs to help doctors make a medical diagnosis. Physicians would try to use different methods to listen to a patient’s heart during an examination. One of these methods was for the physician to place his ear on the patient’s chest to hear their heartbeat.

French physician Rene Laennec invented the stethoscope in 1816. He wanted to listen to the heartbeat of a female patient who was suspected of having heart disease but thought it would be awkward to place his ear on her chest. He experimented by rolling several sheets of paper into a tube and was surprised to hear the patient’s heartbeat when he put the paper tube against the patient’s chest.

Laennec continued to experiment with his new creation. He later created a foot-long wooden cylinder that looked like a clarinet. This wooden cylinder became the first stethoscope.

The Littmann Stethoscope

The stethoscope went through several innovations, including:

  • 1855 – the first binary stethoscope that transmitted sound to both ears
  • 1894 – the first diaphragm chest piece was created separately from the bell to transmit high-pitch sounds
  • 1926 – the diaphragm and bell were combined into one unit

In the early 1960s, cardiologist and Harvard Medical School clinical professor of medicine Dr. David Littmann developed a new and improved stethoscope compared to the older models. The new Littmann stethoscope featured a short bifurcated tube with two earpieces. This design allowed doctors to listen to a patient’s heartbeat binaurally. They could also carry this stethoscope with them anywhere they needed to go. Today, the 3M Littmann stethoscope continues to innovate this vital medical tool.

Stethoscope Basics

A stethoscope has many parts that work together that allow a doctor or nurse to hear the internal sounds of their patients. These parts include:
  • The chest piece – This part is placed on the patient’s skin, clothing, or bandages and is responsible for conducting sound. The chest piece can be one- or two-sided.
  • The diaphragm – The circular part of the chest piece is the diaphragm. It is responsible for picking up high-frequency sounds. The diaphragm is the large circular part on a two-sided chest piece.
  • The bell – The bell is the small circular part of the chest piece, and it is responsible for picking up low-frequency sounds.
  • The stem – This piece connects the chest piece to the tubing.
  • The Tubing – This piece transfers the sound picked up by the chest piece through the ear tubes.
  • The headset – This part of the stethoscope consists of two ear tubes, tension springs, and ear tips. The tension springs help to keep the ear tips comfortably inside your ears.

How to Choose a Stethoscope

Shopping for a new stethoscope should not be difficult if you know what you need. The best thing you can do is to try out different stethoscopes. You can ask your colleagues if you can try on their stethoscopes. Be sure to clean the ear tips before putting them on. Then you can use them to hear your heartbeat and the heartbeat of your colleagues. You should check to see if the stethoscope fits comfortably in your ears and if you hear everything. This process can help you decide which 3M Littmann Stethoscope is best for you.

The Best Littmann Stethoscopes

Here are some of the best 3M Littman stethoscopes that you can purchase. Keep in mind that some of these stethoscopes are for general use, while others have a specific purpose.

This Littmann stethoscope uses digital technology to provide healthcare professionals with outstanding cardiology-grade acoustics. The current price of the 3M Littmann Core Digital stethoscope is $349.99, which puts it at the top of the price range on this list of 3M Littmann stethoscopes.

Auscultation is a lot clearer with the Core Digital. It has active noise cancellation that reduces unwanted background noise. The electronically assisted system gives you up to 40x the amplification you need to auscultate with confidence. You can also download the free Eko app on a smart device so you can record and share your auscultation.



  • Amplified auscultation and noise cancellation
  • Soft-sealing comfortable ear tips
  • Tunable chest piece diaphragm for adult and pediatric patients



  • High price tag
  • Smart device sold separately

The Cardiology IV 3M Littmann stethoscope meets the needs of doctors and nurses who work in challenging environments. The current price of this stethoscope is $164.97.

The Cardiology IV is the stethoscope you want in an emergency critical care environment. Its large chest piece, tunable diaphragm, and deep bell isolate subtle hard-to-hear sounds in a patient. This design enables you to hear changes in the patient and intervene when necessary.


  • Made for critical care, ICU, and other dynamic locations
  • Use on adult and pediatric patients
  • Ergonomic and durable design


  • Tubing is heavy and thick
  • Mixed reviews on auscultating
The Classic III is a practical 3M Littman stethoscope for a general, non-critical care medical office setting. You can use it to monitor, assess, and diagnose a wide range of patients. The current price of the 3M Littmann Classic III is $114.66. The Classic III is a compact stethoscope that is versatile for use with adult and pediatric patients. It has high acoustic sensitivity that helps you detect low-sounding normal and abnormal sounds and rhythms. The Classic III also comes in a variety of colors to match your personality.


  • Versatility in non-critical care situations
  • Use on adult and pediatric patients


  • Mixed reviews on auscultation abilities
The Master Cardiology 3M Littmann stethoscope delivers the highest acoustic sound to capture clear low and high-frequency sounds. The current price of the Master Cardiology stethoscope is $219.88. The tube has a dual lumen two-in-one design that eliminates noise interference and keeps its shape and flexibility. You can adjust the headset tension so that it fits comfortably on your head. You can also adjust the pressure on the chest piece to hear different sound frequencies without having to reposition the chest piece.


  • High-quality auscultation
  • Good for primary care providers and non-critical care situations


  • Tubing may not be durable enough

The Classic II 3M Littmann Infant stethoscope features a special design for infant patients. It is made with latex-free materials, and it has a non-chill diaphragm that keeps infant patients comfortable. The current price of the Classic II Infant stethoscope is $113. 03.

This 3M Littmann stethoscope is a proven tool for assessing, monitoring and diagnosing infant patients. Its dual-sided chest piece gives you high acoustic sensitivity to help you to hear high and low-frequency sounds.


  • Made for infant auscultation


  • Not recommended for use on children and adults
The Classic II Pediatric 3M Littmann stethoscope has many of the same qualities as the Classic II Infant 3m Littmann stethoscope. The design and size of the Classic II Pediatric stethoscope are ideal for children and small teens. The current price of the Classic II Pediatric 3M Littman stethoscope is $104.48.


  • Made for children and small teens


  • Not made for use on large teens and adults

The Lightweight II S.E. 3M Littmann stethoscope gives you reliable acoustic sounds when taking blood pressure readings. You can use this stethoscope while making limited physical assessments on adult patients. The current price of the Lightweight II S.E. stethoscope is $55.74.

This stethoscope has a teardrop chest piece that makes it easy for auscultating around blood pressure cuffs. The Lightweight II S.E. stethoscope is also the lightest of all the adult 3M Littmann stethoscopes at 118 grams.



  • Comfortable, lightweight design
  • Affordable price
  • Use while taking blood pressure reading



  • Considered an entry-level stethoscope
  • Not cardiac-specific

The Master Classic II 3M Littmann stethoscope has an ergonomic design with excellent acoustic sensitivity. It has a single-sided chest piece that delivers clear and reliable acoustic performance. Its versatility makes it appropriate for use with medical students and healthcare professionals. The current price of the Master Classic II stethoscope is $121.16.


  • Reliable and versatile
  • Appropriate for medical students and professionals


  • Reviewers report minor issues with sound and tubing
Choosing the right stethoscope depends on the type of medicine you practice and your personal preference. Medical and nursing students can have a general use stethoscope. Emergency room doctors and nurses need a stethoscope that they can use in a noisy environment. Buying the best Littmann stethoscope can help you be the best doctor or nurse to your patients.

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