Best 3M Littmann Stethoscopes For Sale: Review & Price Guide

If you're a health worker or student in a health-related field, you'd have definitely seen a Littmann stethoscope hanging around. Littmann is by far the most popular stethoscope brand worldwide and for good reasons too.

I don't mean to sound patronizing but the 'lowest quality' Littmann stethoscope is perhaps better than the best stethoscopes some companies have to offer. The difference lies in durability, strength, acoustic performance and even aesthetics.

Now that we have established Littmann as the best maker of stethoscopes, how then do you make a choice amongst the many products this major brand has to offer?

This is why we have written this guide. We have looked through the different types of stethoscopes in their arsenal, combing through all their functions, and have selected our best 5 to help you make a choice.

To be honest, it wasn't the easiest line of products to review because of how high quality most of their stethoscopes are (almost all their stethoscopes are awesome). However, these are the 5 that stand out for us.

Best Littmann Stethoscopes in 2018

1. 3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope- Overall Best Littmann Stethoscope

2. 3M Littmann Cardiology IV Stethoscope- Best Littmann Stethoscope in Acoustic Performance

3. 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope- Best Low-cost and Lightweight Littmann Stethoscope

4. 3M Littmann Classic II Pediatric Stethoscope- Best Pediatric Littmann Stethoscope

5. 3M Littmann 3200 Electronic Stethoscope- Best Electronic Littmann Stethoscope

These are our best picks from the Littmann collection and if there's anything to be sure about, is that any of them you choose should serve you for quite a long time.

Let's go on to our review of each of these stethoscopes.

Best 3M Littmann Stethoscopes in 2018- Detailed Review

1. 3M Littmann Classic III Stethoscope- Overall Best Littmann Stethoscope

This stethoscope stands out in every way. Littmann packed this stethoscope with a decent amount of technology to help you hear sounds clearly when you auscultate. If there's anything worthy of note, it would be its durability. Most people who own this stethoscope don't need to change its parts.

This makes it a very good choice for medical students, doctors, nurses and EMTs who don't want to bother about changing their stethoscopes twice a year. The stethoscope is also versatile, it has a dual-head chest piece that makes it useful for auscultating both adult and pediatric patients.

It may not be the cheapest stethoscope but is definitely worth every dollar you spend on it. It is cost effective, considering that the bucks you spend getting it would likely be the only cash you'll spend on a stethoscope in years. To emphasize its durability, you get a 5-year warranty on this piece of medical equipment, this is far more than most other stethoscope brands and models.

Its acoustic performance is also very noteworthy, it is very sensitive and moves the sound to your ears without much muffling. You can listen to heart sounds, lung sounds and take blood pressure readings accurately with this stethoscope.

Here's a summary of its pros and cons.


  • Best value for money
  • Excellent acoustic performance
  • Dual-head that can be used for both adult and pediatric patients
  • Sensitive tunable diaphragm (you're able to hear different sound frequencies by adjusting the pressure you put on the chest piece)
  • Comfortable ear tips and headset
  • Non-latex tube for people with latex sensitivity
  • Very durable tube that isn't damaged by alcohol or skin oils
  • 5-year warranty
  • Available in many colors and chest-piece finishes


  • Not the cheapest stethoscope
  • Does not come with an ID tag

2. 3M Littmann Cardiology IV Stethoscope- Best Littmann Stethoscope in Acoustic Performance

As the name suggests, this is a high-end stethoscope when it comes to sound quality. This stethoscope was built and designed for clinicians who want to hear extremely high-quality sounds when they auscultate.

One special feature this stethoscope possesses is its dual-lumen tubing. What does this mean? It has two sound pathways that give it a superior acoustic performance than most other stethoscopes, increasing the clarity of sounds.

Also, unlike other stethoscopes with two sound pathways in two different tubes, Littmann made this stethoscope with two sound pathways in just one tube. The benefit is that this design eliminates the 'rubbing' sounds that double-tubed stethoscopes usually have.

It still features a tunable diaphragm (just like other Littmann stethoscopes) that helps you listen to different sound frequencies by changing the pressure you apply on the chest piece when auscultating. The stethoscope is also very versatile, the chest piece has a dual head, hence you can get this same superior sound quality when you use it in both pediatric and adult patients.

Its next-generation tubing is also alcohol and skin oil resistant, making it a very durable stethoscope. Its warranty period (not-surprising) is for 7 years. So, if you choose this stethoscope, get ready to have it serve you without much hassle for a really long time.

Below is a summary of its pros and cons.


  • Outstanding acoustic performance
  • Decreased background noise
  • Dual-lumen tubing
  • Dual-head chest piece for use in both children and adults
  • Has a non-chill bell rim to enhance patient comfort
  • Very comfortable headset and ear tips
  • 7-year warranty


  • Relatively high price

3. 3M Littmann Lightweight II S.E. Stethoscope- Best Low-cost and Lightweight Littmann Stethoscope

If you want an entry-level, lightweight stethoscope that is very affordable and reeks of quality, this stethoscope is the perfect fit for you.

It is ideally suitable for blood pressure checks and other basic auscultation. It even has a tear-drop shape that makes it easy to go under the blood pressure cuff while checking a patient's blood pressure. This stethoscope can serve as a good fit for blood pressure checks at the nursing station or similar location where a high-end acoustic stethoscope may be unnecessary.

It is also very affordable for a Littmann stethoscope and is about half the price of a Littmann Classic III stethoscope. It is actually the cheapest Littmann stethoscope available. Despite its low cost, it still provides good value for money. It has a next-generation tubing that is made of a durable non-latex rubber, a dual chest piece with a non-chill rim that makes it useful and comfortable for both pediatric and adult patients, comfortable ear tips and a tunable diaphragm.

Lastly, at just 118g it has the lightest weight of all adult Littmann stethoscopes. This is quite useful for people who need to carry their stethoscopes around for extended periods- you won't have to worry about a heavy equipment on your neck. You can carry it all day long without getting a neck pain or discomfort.

Here is a summary of its pros and cons.


  • Very light-weight, easy to carry around
  • Very affordable for a Littmann stethoscope
  • High-quality stain-resistant tubing
  • Dual head chest piece for use in both adult and pediatric patients
  • Tear-drop shaped chest piece for easy positioning under blood pressure cuffs and bandages
  • Soft ear tips


  • Average acoustic performance

4. 3M Littmann Classic II Pediatric Stethoscope- Best Pediatric Littmann Stethoscope

This stethoscope is the best for you if you work in a pediatric center or attend to children very often. It provides a good acoustic experience with a smaller chest piece that is just suitable for children.

It has a dual head, meaning it can be used for children and on infants and newborns. Its two diaphragms are really small in diameter, the larger one is just about 3.3cm in diameter, while the smaller one has a diameter of only 2.5cm (1 inch). As with other Littmann stethoscopes, the diaphragm is equipped with tunable technology, meaning that you can listen to both high and low-frequency sounds by changing the pressure you apply to the chest piece while auscultating. The diaphragm and bell are non-chill, which is very important for the cooperation of children.

It is also light-weight, it is far lighter than most adult stethoscopes, making it very easy to carry around and manipulate. Its total weight is just about 105g.

The stethoscope has a very durable tubing that isn't easily stained or damaged, meaning you'll not need to change its parts very often or months after purchasing it. Littmann also gives you a 3-year warranty on this stethoscope, which should assure you of its long-lasting ability.

Its price is a bit on the high-side, but considering that this is perhaps the best pediatric stethoscope around today, it surely is good value for your money.

Here's a summary of its pros and cons.


  • Best pediatric stethoscope around
  • Good value for money
  • Dual head for use in neonates, infants, and older children
  • Good acoustic performance
  • Very lightweight
  • Available in multiple colors
  • Long-lasting with a 3-year warranty


  • Some people may consider it expensive

5. 3M Littmann 3200 Electronic Stethoscope- Best Electronic Littmann Stethoscope

We are in a digital age and stethoscopes were not left behind by the technological revolution. This stethoscope has a very modern look, feel and experience. You can hear very clear sounds, its acoustic performance is surreal.

It has an ambient noise reduction technology that lowers background noise by 85%, helping you only hear sounds emanating from your patient's body. This can be very helpful if you need to be precise about your auscultation.

The diaphragm is very sensitive, the stethoscope amplifies sound by up to 24 times. In the words of someone who owns this electronic stethoscope, "you can hear anything and everything". You can also record sounds for up to 30 seconds to replay to be sure of what you heard, review with your colleagues, send in a report or even for a patient to listen to what you heard.

Apart from background noise reduction, there's still more tech in this stethoscope. Using its Bluetooth capabilities, you can transmit sound clips to devices and speakers around you.

The stethoscope looks really pretty, modern and is available in multiple colors. 

Now, all this tech doesn't come cheap, you may have to consider its high price before getting one. It costs almost 4-6 times more than its conventional counterparts. Another downside is that there have been reports of technical problems and its 2-year warranty isn't encouraging considering its very high price.

Here's a summary of its pros and cons.


  • Very modern stethoscope
  • Super acoustic performance
  • Ambient noise reduction technology
  • Amplifies sound up to 24 times
  • Audio recording for up to 30 seconds
  • Digital screen that displays sound and battery levels with the patient's heart rate
  • Comfortable ear tips and headset


  • High price
  • Technical issues aren't uncommon
  • Short warranty period for its price (2 years)
  • Not very useful for pediatric patients

Littmann Stethoscope Prices

Littmann is a premium stethoscope brand worldwide, it is known for producing very standard stethoscopes. Its products are high quality and made in the USA, hence relatively more expensive than most other brands. 

If cost isn't all that matters to you, a Littmann stethoscope should be able to take care of most of your auscultation needs as a health worker. A Littmann stethoscope is usually good value for every dollar you spend on it. They last longer than most brands and you'll likely not need to spend any more money replacing parts often or getting a new one altogether anytime soon.

Their prices vary based on the model you prefer to purchase, ranging from about $45 to over $500 for the electronic ones.

The Interesting History Of The Littmann Stethoscope

The stethoscope was invented in 1816 by a French physician, Rene Laennec. Prior to this time, physicians listened to heart and lung sounds by placing their heads on the chest of their patients.

This seemed very uncomfortable and awkward for both physician and the patient, also, there were issues about proper placement of the physician's ear and the lack of sound amplification. These were a few of the drawbacks of this method of listening to heart and lung sounds.

 Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

Rene Laennec's first stethoscope was made of paper he folded and placed on the chest of his patient. He noticed he could hear the chest sounds very audibly and later improved this design, using wood to carve it instead. The stethoscope had only one earpiece (mono-aural). He coined the name stethoscope from the Greek words: stethos (chest) and scopos (to view or see), and named the act of using the stethoscope, auscultation, from the word 'auscultare', which means 'listen'.

In 1852, the first commercial bi-aural stethoscopes were commercially made by George P. Camman. This two ear-pieced stethoscope design become the precursor of what we have today. 

In the early 1960s, David Littmann, a cardiologist and Havard professor created a new stethoscope type with improved acoustics, his business was acquired a few years later by 3M. This is how the popular 3M Littmann stethoscope brand was formed.

Basic Common Features Found In All Littmann Stethoscopes

Littmann stethoscopes are the best for a reason: they are made of high-quality parts and have premium features. There are some awesome qualities that all Littmann stethoscopes share, from the low-end ones to the highest spec masterpieces. Here are some:

Tunable Diaphragm Technology

This is a 3M invention that has been mentioned several times in this article already. It means that a clinician can listen to both high and low frequency sounds on the same diaphragm by simply changing the pressure applied to the chest piece.

How does it work?

If you want to listen to low-frequency sounds, simply apply just a light contact between the stethoscope and the patient's skin. On the other hand, if you want to listen to high-frequency sounds, apply firm pressure between the chest piece and the patient's skin.

Next-Generation Tubing

Littmann uses a similar material for most of their tubings. It is not made with natural rubber latex, hence it is perfect for use in clinicians or patients with latex sensitivity. It also does not contain phthalate plasticizers, which is good news for the environment.

Apart from these, the tubing isn't easily stained and durable. It is also resistant to alcohols and skin oils. If you fold a stethoscope to put in a tight bag or pocket, the stethoscope's tube retains its shape and flexibility. These features are what makes Littmann stethoscope tubings last very long. They are quite impressive.

Comfortable Headset

One other thing common to all Littmann stethoscope models is their comfortable headset. The angulation of the headset is designed to fit the anatomical positioning and orientation of the ears. This makes it quite easy to put on and comfortable to use.

The ear tips are also very soft and some models even come with extra ear tips, just in case you lose yours.

Available in Multiple Colors

One good thing Littmann does well is not to limit you to a specific color for a particular stethoscope model. Most of the models come in several beautiful colors. I've seen most stethoscopes available in colors like black, burgundy, navy blue, olive green, pearl pink, chocolate and even turquoise.

So, you can have a very good, functional stethoscope without giving up your style. 

How Does A Stethoscope Work?

The principle behind most stethoscopes is pretty straight-forward. When the chest piece is placed on a patient's skin, the vibrations and sounds are picked up by the diaphragm which then transmits it to the flexible tubing. This is different in the electronic models where the chest piece amplifies the sound several times over before transmission to the flexible tubing.

In the flexible tubing, the sound is carried towards the headset. Littmann has two variants of this tubing:

  • The single lumen tubing
  • The double-lumen tubing

In the single one, there is only one sound pathway, that is, the sound is moved in a single hollow tube from the chest piece to the ear tubes.

In the double-lumen tubing, there are two sound pathways, meaning that a single tubing has two hollow spaces for sound to pass through to the ear tubes. This feature is present in the Littmann Cardiology models and is part of what makes them have a superior acoustic performance when compared to other models or stethoscope brands.

The headset consists of the ear tubes and ear tips. When the sound gets to the ear tubes from the flexible tubing, they are sent towards the soft sealing ear tips, which further transmits the sound to the ears. The ear tips are designed to minimize 'sound leaks' to the environment.

How To Care For A Littmann Stethoscope

Maintaining your stethoscope is very important. You don't want to spend a hundred bucks buying an awesome stethoscope, only to unintentionally spoil it because you failed to maintain it well.

Knowing how to care for a Littmann stethoscope is also vital in ensuring the stethoscope's performance isn't diminished in a short time. So, how are you supposed to care for your stethoscope? It's simple, follow these quick tips:

  1. When dirty, wipe your stethoscope with a damp cloth.
  2. Clean the diaphragm from time to time with alcohol-soaked cotton swabs. This helps to disinfect it, especially if you've used it on a patient you suspect an infection in.
  3. Protect your stethoscope from extreme temperatures.
  4. Keep it away from solvents and oils, as these could damage the tubing.
  5. Don't immerse it in any liquid or expose it to sterilization. This can damage your stethoscope irreversibly.
  6. You can detach the ear tips to properly clean them. Care should be taken not to misplace the ear tips when you detach them (most Littmann stethoscopes come with extra ear tips).
  7. Read the manual or product instructions to be sure of the best practices to maintain a particular stethoscope model.

Over To You

We have just gone through our best 5 Littmann stethoscopes, giving you a detailed review. Thanks for hanging around and reading to the end.

Now, it's up to you to make a decision on which one suits your unique needs.

If you have tested other Littmann stethoscopes and believe they should be on this list, please let us know in the comments, we would be glad to share our opinions and possibly update this article to include your picks. 

Also, if you have something to say or a comment to make about any of the stethoscopes we have reviewed, feel free to drop a comment too.

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