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UPDATED FOR 2021: For this new year, we updated our selection of the best digital stethoscopes. The 3M Littman Core is now our overall winner. Offering the possibility to toggle between analog and amplification mode easily, this model combines the best of both worlds and is the model to consider in 2021.
With more than 18 million people dying of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) every year, it is critical to detect cardiac illnesses early. Heart auscultation goes far beyond checking the heart rate. It relates to detecting and interpreting heart sounds (HS). From its invention more than 200 years ago by Rene Laennec, the traditional acoustic stethoscopes have come a long way.
The heart sounds contain a mixture of different high-frequency and low-frequency sounds that can be difficult to hear and interpret. Noise-canceling technologies are especially useful in noisy environments such as Emergency Rooms. For Veterinarians, they allow reducing the sound of the chest piece on the animal’s fur.
Electronic stethoscopes will convert the acoustic sound waves into electronic signals. The amplified sounds are processed using various algorithms that will help the practitioners detect and interpret clinical anomalies. Using Bluetooth technology, the data can also be sent to a smartphone or a tablet for further analyses or to get a second opinion.
Digital stethoscopes are more expensive than their analogic counterparts. It is somehow difficult to compare the comfort of use they offer, especially the sound quality obtained with the ambient noise reduction technology.
They can also be very useful for medical students. They allow hearing the patient’s sounds more clearly. For some of them, the associated app offers the possibility to record and save the clinical examination for later review or to seek a second opinion.
We selected three digital stethoscopes for their performance and ease of use.
Best for amplification
Cardionics E-scope 7700
3M Littmann CORE
Best for convenience
Core Digital attachment
3M Littmann CORE Electronic Stethoscope with Bluetooth
The 3M Littmann CORE electronic stethoscope will not disappoint with the latest technologies for amplifying the sounds and ambient noise reduction. Lightweight and comfortable, this stethoscope is also compatible with telehealth use. An investment you will not regret! Check our full review of the 3M Littmann CORE for more information.
Electronic Stethoscope by 3M Littman CORE
Price when reviewed: $349.00
With a total weight of 8.1 ounces (232 grams), not only is the 3M Littmann CORE lightweight and comfortable to wear, but it is a durable piece of equipment that incorporates numerous technological breakthroughs. The sounds are amplified up to 40x, and with a proprietary ambient noise reduction technology, it cancels 85% of the background noises.
With its frictional noise reduction technology, the Littmann electronic stethoscope is perfect for veterinarians. Easy to use and durable, it offers charges via micro-USB. One charge of the lithium-ion battery offers 8-hour life. It offers the best of both worlds as the amplification and analog can be switched directly from the toggle.
Sounds can be recorded or transferred in real-time to a computer for further analysis. Compatible with the HIPAA compliant Eko software, the 3M Littmann Core electronic stethoscope can also be used for telemedicine or to benefit from Artificial Intelligence algorithms. In January 2020, the FDA even gave clearance to EKO for an algorithm detecting heart murmurs.
The 3M Littmann Core is sturdy and can endure the rigors of a busy day. It comes with a durable metal chest piece and traditional tubing that perfectly fits into a pocket or around the neck and an extra set of ear-piece.
With a 2 year warranty and 30 days money-back guarantee, this model does not come cheap but is ideal for cardiologists, critical care nurses, ER doctors, general practitioners, medical students, pediatric specialists, registered nurses, and veterinarians.
Cardionics E-Scope 7700
Best for amplification
Easy to use, the Cardionics E-Scope 7700 offers a strong sound amplification that can be easily controlled. Perfect for those who have partial hearing loss. Possibility to plug an external headset. A very reliable digital stethoscope that is built to last.
E-Scope 7700 by Cardionics
Price when reviewed: $334.99
Cardionics is not new to the electronic stethoscope market. Professor Abe Ravin, M.D., FACC from the University of Denver, Colorado, founded the company in 1969.
When developing the first heart sound amplifier, the goal of Pr. Ravin was to help his students differentiate between normal and abnormal cardiac and pulmonary sounds. More than fifty years later, the company is still true to these core principles.
The E-Scope is lightweight and is great for general practitioners for heart, breath, bruit, bowel, or Korotkoff sounds. Especially well suited for people suffering from hearing loss. The level output is 120dB at 100Hz, which corresponds to an amplification of approximately 30 times a standard stethoscope. Powered by just one AAA battery, the stethoscope will automatically be powered off after 1.5 to 2 minutes.
The volume control is located on the head of the stethoscope for an easy increase and decrease. The sound amplification offers 64 levels for precise adjustment and restarts at the previous setting once switched off and on.
The Cardionics E-Scope II 7700 also integrates an output jack for accessories, such as headphones for a second listener, to broadcast sounds or connect to a PC for recording or telemedicine purposes. To be noted, the 7710 belt model does not come with an earpiece but uses headphones. Perfect for never losing your stethoscope again.
This reliable and durable stethoscope comes with an accessory pack, including a pediatric diaphragm, plastic adult diaphragm, pediatric and infant bells, and several ear tips. With a one year warranty, the E-Scope is a great choice even though his price is in the high-end range.
Eko Core Digital Stethoscope Attachment
Best for convenience
Compatible with the existing analog stethoscopes, the Eko core digital attachment offers the best of the two worlds. A perfect way to experience the comfort of an amplified stethoscope while keeping the one you already trust.
Core Digital Attachment by Eko
Price when reviewed: $199.00
Do you already own an analog stethoscope that you enjoy but would like to benefit from sound noise amplification? The Eko Core Digital attachment is for you. This second-generation attachment is 25% smaller and 30% lighter than the first generation.
It provides 40x sound amplification with 7 volume levels and noise cancellation technology. It allows you to toggle with just one finger between analog and digital. The Eko Core digital attachment offers the best of the two worlds: analog and digital.
The digital piece wirelessly pairs via Bluetooth to the free EKO Mobile App to record, visualize, share, and review the sounds. There is no need to say that the digital attachment piece is compatible with the most popular analog stethoscope models from 3M Littmann, ADC, WelchAllyn, MDF, and Medline. No cutting is necessary; remove the original tubbing from the chest piece and insert the provided additional tubing and digital attachment.
The battery recharges via a USB in just 9 hours and provides 21 days of normal use. When paired with the free Eko Mobile App compatible with smartphones and tablets with iOS 7 or Android 5.0 and up, the attachment unlocks real-time phonocardiogram potential.
The Eko Core Digital Stethoscope Attachment is comfortable, durable, and reasonably priced. If you already own an analog stethoscope and wants to enjoy the benefits of an electronic stethoscope, the Eko attachment is truly a no brainer choice.
Also to consider
Eko DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope
No standard chest piece for this all-electronic stethoscope that combines a single-lead electrocardiogram. This device is 100% digital and benefits from EKO’s platform. It can also be remotely used and is a very innovative technology that is very well thought and suited for telehealth. Check our review of the EKO DUO.
Is the Thinklabs ONE the stethoscope of the 21st/22nd century? It may well be! With a unique form factor and, the ONE combines the best technology with the best materials. To date, the control it offers on amplification and filtering is unrivaled. Using earphones instead of standard binaural tubing may be quite disconcerting for some. All of these innovative features somehow come at a price. Check our review of the Thinklabs ONE.