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Best Electronic Stethoscope (Top 3 Review for 2018)

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A stethoscope is one of the most important tools for a physician. Thus, its quality is very important. You will need a stethoscope to listen to cardiac and lung sounds and also take blood pressure reading.

Most medics make a mistake of only considering recommendation, brand and price when shopping for a stethoscope. However, this should not be the case. There are various important things to consider to find a stethoscope that will meet your expectations.

Most doctors identify with the traditional acoustic stethoscope. However, technology led to a more advanced stethoscope: the electronic stethoscope (also known as a digital stethoscope).

If you want a quick recommendation of a quality electronic stethoscope, check out the Thinklabs One electronic stethoscope which is our favorite.

Overview of Digital Stethoscopes

This is a more advanced stethoscope than the traditional acoustic stethoscopes. While many brands of electronic stethoscopes in the market, you should research well to find a good quality one. Let’s look at the basic features of electronic stethoscopes:

Power

Electronic stethoscopes are powered by external energy. The source of the energy a model requires depends on its design.

Most digital stethoscopes are powered by AC 12V power cords instead of batteries. When powered on, most of the steths will have some light indication. When they run low on power, the stethoscopes will also show some visual or audio signal.

Amplifying stethoscopes use rechargeable batteries, lithium, AAA or AA batteries. Some models have a visual indicator when the power level is low on the scope or LCD of the chestpiece.

Some medics are wary of purchasing electronic steths as they are afraid of them suddenly going off while they are in the middle of their examination. However, this rarely happens.

Digital

Digitizing stethoscopes are electronic stethoscopes capable of converting audio sounds to digital signals. They can also transmit serialized audio data that can be shared in real time or stored and then later shared.

Digitizing stethoscopes have an electronic sensor that detects sound and then converts it to electronic form. This sound is then run through a circuit that amplifies, filters in accordance with the frequency and is converted from analog to digital.

This digitized data can be sent to any computer software across a network through a video conference unit. However, for this to happen, both the electronic stethoscopes sending and receiving data must be capable of converting digital signals to analog signals, amplifying the sounds, filtering the frequency and finally transmitting the sound to a form humans can understand.

Audio Output

Most amplifying stethoscopes have an audio output signal you can use to transfer real-time data using some form of software. The software can have algorithms for interpretation and diagnosis of audio output from the stethoscope.

You can save and transmit the audio output electronically through email to other health professionals. With some models, you can even transmit this data through a video conference unit.

Electronic stethoscopes amplify the body sounds. Thus, they have no problem of low sound level that is common with most acoustic stethoscopes.

The stethoscopes also convert acoustic sound waves into electronic signals. The signals are then run through a circuit that enhances the sound, enabling it to be listened to at different frequencies.

The circuit also digitizes sound and decreases background noise. This allows you make the best diagnosis based on what you hear and not interfering noises.

How to Choose the Best Electronic Stethoscope

If you only consider how famous a brand is or solely rely on recommendations by workmates, you are bound to choose an electronic stethoscope that might not satisfy your needs. Consider the following before buying an electronic stethoscope:

  • Headset. Go for a headset that is angled at 15 degrees to improve comfort while wearing. Also, the headset and chest piece should be of high-quality material.
  • Chest piece. A high-quality chest piece should be made of titanium or steel. These high-density materials have better sound conductivity than softer materials.
  • Diaphragm. The diaphragm should be sturdy and not prone to damage or punctures.
  • Eartips. The ear tips should perfectly fit in your ears such that they won’t carelessly fall off. Moreover, they should block ambient noise.

Electronic stethoscopes detect sound differently from traditional acoustic stethoscopes. Most electronic stethoscopes have a tiny microphone in their chest piece. However, such models usually have increased ambient noise interference.

Some models also have a piezoelectric crystal at the head of the metal shaft. The shaft is then put in the head of the stethoscope, with the bottom in contact with the diaphragm. With some brands, the crystal is coated with a thick diaphragm made of rubber-like material.

Finally, some electronic stethoscopes use an electromagnetic diaphragm with a conductive inner surface to detect sound. This arrangement creates a capacitive sensor and has the same response to sound waves as traditional acoustic stethoscopes. However, the sound does not cause a physical change in the air pressure but instead changes the electrical field. Th electronic steth, therefore, gives a similar sound to an acoustic steth except that the sound is amplified.

The differences between the electronic stethoscope and the traditional acoustic stethoscope make some medical professionals apprehensive of switching to them. However, those who choose electronic steths are impressed by their sound quality.

High-end electronic stethoscope brands are also capable of wireless transmission, recording and data output.

3 Top Rated Electronic Stethoscopes

NameOriginWeightLengthWarrantyPrice
Littmann Electronic 3100
littmann stethoscope 3100
USA6.6 ounces27 inches2 years$417.84
ThinkLab One
Electronic Stethoscope
USA14.4 ouncesNone2 years$529.01
Littmann 3200
littmann cardiology iv stethoscope
USA6.6 ounces27 inches3 years$417.84

1.     Thinklabs One Digital Stethoscope

thinklabs one digital stethoscopeThinklabs One is easily the best electronic stethoscope. Its most outstanding feature is the 3.5mm jack that allows you to connect your preferred headphones. The steth also has multiple filter options to make your listening experience phenomenon.

If you wish, you can choose the Thinklabs studio quality headphones. These will allow you to hear even the very deep bass sounds of the heart as well as treble ranges of your favorite song.

With the filter options, you can listen to both high and low-frequency sounds. Even better, pre-setting your favorite features only requires a swift selection.

The Thinklabs One stethoscope uses lithium-ion batteries. It also has a universal AC charger and a USB-type charger cable for charging the batteries. You will only need a maximum of two charges a week.

Thinklabs One Digital stethoscope is also compatible with Thinklink. This is a software that allows you to connect your stethoscope with other devices like your smartphone, iPod, Mac or PC.

What we Love

  • The multiple filter capabilities
  • The rechargeable battery
  • The ability to easily hear extremely low and high pitched sounds

Cons…

  • It is expensive (current costs$529.01 at Amazon)
  • You will have to buy headphones

Thinklab One Digital Stethoscope Reviews

#1 “As an electronic stethoscope, it works relatively well although it is prone to noise disturbance”

#2 “It allows for one with hearing aids to use them efficiently”

See Amazon Customer Reviews Check Price at Amazon

2.     Littmann Electronic Stethoscope 3200

littmann stethoscope 3200If you work in a busy clinic or a noisy emergency room, the Littmann electronic stethoscope 3200 will be right for you. The stethoscope can transfer audio files using Bluetooth and even connect to other computers.

There are different earpiece styles and sizes that the stethoscope is packaged with. The earpieces do not have natural rubber latex in their tubing. Therefore, they are safe for latex-sensitive people. The stethoscope’s tubes come in a variety of colors.

The Littmann stethoscope 3200 comes with a warranty of 2 years.

What We Love

  • It is latex free
  • Comes with more than one ear piece
  • Features a redesigned user interface

Cons

  • It requires batteries
  • The battery compartment has a weak connection

Littmann 3200 Electronic Stethoscope Reviews

#1 “This stethoscope is extremely sensitive to pressure. So, you need to be careful when holding it or else it might turn off”

#2 “The Littmann 3200 stethoscope is extremely efficient”

See Amazon Customer Reviews Check Price at Amazon

3.     The Littmann 3100 Stethoscope

littmann electronic stethoscope
This Littmann stethoscope produces crisp clear sounds in both the bell and diaphragm modes.

The amplification capability (up to x24) of this model is a step ahead of other stethoscopes. This, with the noise-canceling capability, makes working in loud environment easy when you have the steth.

The Littmann 3100 stethoscope has a non-chill diaphragm and can reduce frictional noise. The tubing is also safe for sensitive individuals as it is phthalate plasticizers and latex free.

What We Love…

  • Excellent quality bell and diaphragm
  • Ability to reduce frictional noise
  • Phenomenon amplification ability

Cons…

  • Does not eliminate all ambient noises
  • The battery compartment has a weak wiring connection
  • Not compatible with Mac computers

Littmann 3100 Stethoscope Reviews

#1 “Although I had to hold the bell in a specific position to keep it from disconnecting, the amplification was extraordinary. Unfortunately, I could also hear some background noise”

#2 “Both models produced clear sound outputs. The amplification was amazing especially when I was working outdoors.”

See Amazon Customer Reviews Check Price at Amazon

Which is the Best Electronic Stethoscope to Buy?

The Thinklabs One electronic stethoscope is clearly the winner among these three stethoscopes. Its excellent quality and high-tech features make it perfect.

With the Thinklabs one stethoscope, you will not be confined to a specific type of headphones like is the case with Littmann 3100 and Littmann 3200. The sound filtration features are also outstanding. The steth’s battery is rechargeable. Moreover, you don’t need a cord that will keep distracting you.

The Thinklink feature which allows you to connect the Thinklab One stethoscope to other devices for easy sharing and storage gives it an edge over the Littmann electronic stethoscopes.

The most important thing to consider when choosing an electronic stethoscope is the quality of sound produced. Based on this, the Thinklabs stethoscope is our number one recommendation.

 Check Price of the Thinklab ONE Stethoscope at Amazon

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