Top 2 Factors to Consider When Buying a Stethoscope


Did you know stethoscopes were invented in 1819? Rene Laennec, a French physician, used a perforated wooden cylinder to transmit sounds from the patient’s chest to his ear.  

Since then, doctors have been using stethoscopes to “listen in” on patients’ hearts. If he was here today, Dr. Laennec would definitely be impressed by the advancements in the technology of stethoscopes and would probably be overwhelmed by all of the stethoscope choices!  

Here is the advice we would give to help him choose the best stethoscope for his needs!  

Understand Key Stethoscope Features

As a doctor, EMT or paramedic, how do you know which stethoscope is best suited for you? What features are most important? 

 We found this video that lists the basic things to consider when choosing a stethoscope! 

Key Points 

  • Choose between a dual/double lumen or single lumen stethoscope. 
    • A single lumen is easier for beginners to manage 
  • Recommended lumen (the tubing) length is 20” for best ergonomics.  
  • Choose between a single head or double head stethoscope.  
    • With a double head stethoscope, you can hear out of both sides – this may cause confusion.  
    • We recommend a single head stethoscope.  
  • Check the diaphragm regularly to ensure there are no cracks or tears. 
    • There are three parts to stethoscopes: 1) Earpieces, 2) Lumen (the plastic tubing), 3) Diaphragm.  
  • Proper fit is important!  
    • Adjust the earpieces so they fit snugly
  • Before you apply the stethoscope, locate the pulse point with your fingers first.  
    • Palpate the area to ensure the strongest location for hearing blood pressure. 

Understand Sound Amplification

Types of Stethoscopes 

In today’s market, there are three main types of stethoscopes: 

  • Traditional acoustic: best for pure sound 
  • Amplifying: best for those who want it to be louder 
  • Digitizing: best for recording and re-listening  

Traditional Acoustic Stethoscopes 

Like all stethoscopes, Traditional Acoustic stethoscopes have a chest piece, tubing and earpieces. However, acoustic stethoscopes operate on the transmission of sound from the chest piece, via air-filled hollow tubes, to the listener’s ears. The sound level transmitted is very low.  

Amplifying Stethoscopes 

Amplifying stethoscopes are electronic and have an audio output signal that, using a stereo and/or mono cable connection, can allow the audio output collected by the stethoscope to be transmitted real time to an accompanying software application. From the software application, the sound volume can be “turned up,” making it easier to hear.  

Digitizing Stethoscopes 

Digitizing stethoscopes are electronic, but they convert the audio sound to a digital signal. These units work by detecting sound through the electronic stethoscope sensor, converting that sound energy to electricity and running it through circuitry which can amplify it, filter it by frequency and finally convert the data from analog to digital. 

“Listen in” to your patient with a stethoscope from Emergency Medical Products (EMP)! EMP has a wide selection of stethoscopes from brands like 3M, ADC and Veridian Healthcare.  

Here are a few of our most popular stethoscopes:  

Before You Purchase

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If you haven’t already, join our Rewards Program to take advantage of those points! Every 1,000 points earned can be redeemed for $10 in credit on future online orders. 

It’s easy and free to sign up! Just check the box when you register for a new online account. If you already have an account, sign up in your account dashboard.

Happy shopping! 

This blog is meant for educational purposes about medical products, medical devices, and related subjects only. It contains only general information about medical products. It is not meant to be medical or clinical advice and should not be treated as such. The information contained in this blog is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties. Emergency Medical Products, Inc. (“EMP”) makes no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy of information, the products discussed, or advice given in connection with this blog. EMP is not a medical provider and is not engaged in providing medical or clinical advice. This blog may contain external links to EMP’s website where certain medical products and medical devices can be purchased from EMP.