Try before you buy: 3 things to look for when buying a stethoscope

Close-up of a Littmann Stethoscope Chestpiece

Cars. Clothes. Bikes. Boats. When we shop for new products, we like to take them for a test drive. We want to make sure they work and we’re satisfied with them. Stethoscopes are no different.

They are investments in meaningful connections. During an appointment, stethoscopes break the ice and cement the patient-provider relationship, all while empowering you, the clinician, to make (sometimes life-saving) diagnoses.

So, it makes sense to test drive a stethoscope before buying.
But how do you do this?

Phone a friend
When shopping around, there’s no substitute for trying out different stethoscopes. Ask colleagues and peers if you can listen through their stethoscopes – just be sure to clean the ear tips before and after use. Ask about their experience using the stethoscope, and, if you’re new to using a stethoscope, test the components.

What to test

Silhouette person with stethoscope icon

The diaphragm is found on the chest piece, beneath the bell. 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes feature a tunable diaphragm that lets you easily hear different sounds simply by adjusting the pressure on the chest piece. Put the tunable diaphragm on your chest using light pressure. Hear your heartbeat? Notice how loud the sound is?


stethoscope choiceTubing
Take note of the tubing. Do you see distinct kinks or bends that can make the stethoscope hard to use? That indicates stiff tubing which can pull on ear tips. 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes feature tubing that flexes easily as you examine a patient.


Littmann stethoscope soft ear tipsEartips
Look for smooth ear tips that seal comfortably inside your ears without irritation. Try to pull one ear tip off the ear tube. The ear tips on 3M™ Littmann® Stethoscopes really do snap tight for maximum acoustic performance and safety.



Other considerations
Beyond the components, take stock of your role and patient population, your personal style, and even the warranty and care you’ll receive along with your stethoscope.

No matter what, don’t be afraid to take it for a test drive.

Helpful Resources
Download this guide to see the anatomy of a stethoscope before you buy.
Take this quiz to find your 3M™ Littmann Stethoscope fit.

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