The Best Stethoscope for Lung Sounds Auscultation

Auscultation of the heart and lungs is an essential feature of accurate patient assessment and diagnosis. Breathing and pulmonary assessment used to be primarily the duty of physicians, but this has changed in recent decades.

Now respiratory therapists, nurses, EMTs, and paramedics perform auscultation regularly in clinical settings and in the field. For this reason, identifying the best stethoscope for lung sounds is important for professionals across the health care spectrum.

Best Stethoscope for Lung Sounds

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What are the features of a high-quality stethoscope for lung ascultation?

A good stethoscope should have a sturdy chestpiece made from precisely machined stainless steel or brass. The diaphragm should be flexible, durable, and fit into the chestpiece with a tight seal.

Tubes should be thick, and most preferably, dual lumen. Ear pieces should be be soft, angled, comfortable to wear while fitting snugly into the ear.

Each of these features contributes to the stethoscope’s ability to deliver clear sound to the user. The fit of the ear pieces can sometimes make the difference between clarity and inaudibility. A good fit not only transmits sound more efficiently, it blocks out disruptive ambient noises. Dual lumen tubing also delivers better sound to the user.

As the interface between patient and instrument, a quality diaphragm is crucial. Small air leaks between diaphragm and chestpiece corrupt a scope’s performance, as does inferior material. The quality of the diaphragm is generally one of the biggest indicators of overall stethoscope performance.

What is the best stethoscope for lung sounds?

Reviews from respiratory therapists, physicians, nurses, and emergency medical personnel overwhelmingly point to one choice for lung sounds: the Littmann Cardiology III. They point to the Cardiology III’s tunable diaphragm, high quality acoustics, comfortable fit, and double head chestpiece as major strengths. Reviewers do mention the Cardiology III’s hefty weight as a feature that takes some getting used to; however, they also like its weight as an indication of a superior build.

Here’s an excerpt from a respiratory care nurse’s 2011 review of the Cardiology III. We think this one says it all! You can read the entire review at

The Littmann’s Cardiology III Stethoscope is my favorite stethoscope to use when I’m at work. I am a nurse on the respiratory care unit and my stethoscope is always a big part of my day….The Littmann’s stethoscope allows me to be able to accurately assess my patients heart tones and respiratory sounds to accurately diagnose each patient. Using this particular stethoscope, bowel sounds, breath sounds and heart sounds are heard very clearly and loud unlike other stethoscopes on the market. Even heart sounds that are very distant are heard great through the Littmann.

The Cardiology III was named an “easy winner” for the best cardiology scope in a 2008 physician’s study that compared six popular scopes. We agree completely! Outstanding acoustics, comfortable ergonomics, and quality manufacture make the Cardiology III clearly the best stethoscope for lung sounds auscultation.

With 265 customer reviews on Amazon ‒ and 84% of purchasers giving it a perfect 5-star rating ‒ you’ll find a great many reasons to come to the same conclusion. If you’re in the market for a top quality auscultation stethoscope, you really can’t go wrong with the Cardiology III.

The Best Stethoscope for Your Job: Assessing the Vital Signs

What’s the best stethoscope for your job? Health care students and working professionals in a variety of medical careers depend on their stethoscopes for accurate information during patient exams. You’ll use your stethoscope every day in your work, so finding the best stethoscope for the job is essential.EMTs - Best Stethoscope for the Job

A few factors will remain constant across all medical professions. Your stethoscope is a listening device ‒ so audio quality is a primary consideration when choosing the best stethoscope. And, like every health care professional, you’ll spend many hours carrying, wearing, and using your stethoscope. That makes comfort an extremely high priority as well.

Depending on the work you do, however, your stethoscope needs and requirements may differ.

Best stethoscope for doctors

The two most popular stethoscopes for practicing physicians are the Littmann Cardiology III and the Welch-Allyn Tycos Harvey Elite. In terms of audio quality for non-electronic stethoscopes, doctor reviews are pretty evenly split between these two stethoscopes. Both of these will provide true, superior audio.

For comfort, the point goes to Littmann. Users report greater tubing flexibility, which allows it to be carried in pockets. They also appreciate the Cardiology III’s lighter weight, which makes it easier to wear during long days.

Doctors looking to invest slightly less in a stethoscope will do well with the Littmann Master Classic II. Reviewers who have used the Master Classic for years report only a marginal difference in audio quality between it and the Cardiology III, with all the comfort at a dramatically lower price.

Your best choice: the Littmann Cardiology III.

Best stethoscope for EMT

Emergency medical technicians need a high-quality stethoscope that can withstand daily rough treatment and lots of carrying around. EMT reviews are nearly unanimous in their praise of the Littmann Classic II S.E.

Reviewers raved about this stethoscope’s combination of superior audio quality and durability. EMTs pointed out that it allows accurate blood pressure readings even in the noisiest circumstances. They also appreciate the Classic II’s 3-year warranty and the great customer service that accompanies it.

Your best choice: the Littmann Classic II S.E.

Best stethoscope for medical students

Medical students appear to split into several camps regarding the best stethoscope for their purposes. Some prefer the Nursing Student - Best Stethoscope for the JobLittmann Classic II S.E. for its light weight, flexibility, and budget-friendly price.

Others find the Classic only so-so in terms of audio quality ‒ especially when they’re learning to pinpoint and differentiate the various heart sounds and murmurs. This group prefers the Litmann Cardiology III for its improved audio capability, double lumen tube, and convertible bell for pediatric exams.

Your best choice: the Littmann Cardiology III.

Best stethoscope for nurses

On your feet and on the go all day long, comfort is an even more important consideration for nurses than it is for other health care professionals. You’ll need a stethoscope that delivers clear, accurate audio quality along with light weight and a design that allows you to work with a minimum of bending and stooping.

There are hundreds of online stethoscope reviews from nurses. The majority of them clearly find the Littmann Classic II S.E. the best stethoscope for their purposes. Nurses point to the Classic’s combination of outstanding acoustics, light weight, durability, comfortable tubing length, and two-sided design ‒ as well as its reasonable price ‒ as factors in their choice. And yes, nurses love the Classic’s many color options as well!

Your best choice: the Littmann Classic II S.E.

Best stethoscope for nursing students

Many nursing schools are recommending the Littmann Classic II S.E. for their students. But nursing students differ in their own personal recommendations. A majority of nursing students advise buying a less pricey stethoscope, partly because of budget concerns and partly because the best stethoscopes are so frequently “borrowed” by fellow students, instructors, and other professionals.

Students also comment that it’s sometimes easier to learn with a simple, straightforward instrument ‒ too much information can be overwhelming when you’re first learning how to listen. They find a really sensitive stethoscope to be overkill.

Your best choice: either the Littmann Select, or the Littmann Lightweight II S.E.

Best stethoscope for paramedic

With emergency room staff depending on their assessments and often providing more advanced emergency care than EMTs, paramedics need a stethoscope that gives them accurate evaluation of heart and lung sounds. Acoustics, especially in noisy situations or when encumbered by patient clothing, are the highest priority for paramedics.

With this in mind, recommendations from working paramedics focus largely on three stethoscopes: the Littmann Cardiology III, the Puretone DRG, and the Littmann Classic II S.E. The Puretone DRG series receives much praise for its audio quality, but also some criticism for being tricky and difficult to use, especially at first. The Cardiology III is frequently mentioned as the best choice for pre-hospital assessment, with the caveat that, like the Puretone, it is a bit pricey.

Most paramedics seem to prefer the combination of high quality and low price they get with the Littmann Classic II S.E. Favorable reviews for the Classic are nearly double those for the other two most popular stethoscopes.

Your best choice: the Littmann Classic II S.E.

Best stethoscope for respiratory therapists

As a respiratory therapist, you work with a wide variety of patients from infants to the elderly, so you need a versatile instrument. Since your specialty is lung sounds, it’s imperative that you have a stethoscope with superior acoustic performance. The right stethoscope will make you a better, more pro-active professional.

Online reviews by experienced respiratory therapists name the Littmann Cardiology III as the very best stethoscope for the job and their top of the line choice. Reviewers recommend the Cardiology III for its outstanding audio quality and its dual heads that allow it to work easily for both adult and pediatric patients.

Your best choice: the Littmann Cardiology III.

Best stethoscope for veterinariansVet Stethoscope - Best Stethoscope for the Job

Veterinary medicine requires you to work with all kind of animals in all kinds of circumstances ‒ from very large to very small, and from general examinations to emergencies. Therefore, you need an especially versatile stethoscope.

In their reviews, many veterinarians point to extra long tubing as a major plus, as it makes it easier to reach large animals while eliminating the need to bend excessively when examining small animals. These professionals name the Littmann Master Classic II Veterinary Stethoscope with its 32″ tubing as their number one choice.

Veterinarian preferences split pretty evenly between a stethoscope with a switchable head or a high-quality tunable diaphragm. Those who prefer the ability to switch to a smaller head for small animals choose the Littmann Master Cardiology, despite its shorter 27″ tubing. Those who like a tunable diaphragm vote overwhelmingly for the Master Classic II.

Your best choice: the Littmann Master Classic II Veterinary Stethoscope.

No matter what your level of experience, or your chosen medical profession, Littmann stethoscopes offer the perfect instrument for your needs. All Littmann stethoscopes are designed for optimum performance, durability, and comfort. That’s why they’ve become the industry standard.

What’s your favorite stethoscope? Tell us your opinion on the best stethoscope for your job.

Littmann Lightweight II S.E. stethoscope - Best Stethoscope for the JobLittmann Lightweight II S.E.

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Littmann Select Stethoscope - Best Stethoscope for the JobLittmann Select

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Littmann Classic II S.E. stethoscope - Best Stethoscope for the JobLittmann Classic II S.E.

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Littmann Master Classic II stethoscope - Best Stethoscope for the JobLittmann Master Classic II

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Littmann Cardiology III stethoscope - Best Stethoscope for the JobLittmann Cardiology III

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Littmann Master Cardiology stethoscope - Best Stethoscope for the JobLittmann Master Cardiology

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