Last Updated on February 23, 2022
We updated our selection of the best digital stethoscopes for this new year. The 3M Littman Core is now our overall winner. Offering the possibility to toggle between analog and amplification modes quickly, this model combines the best of both worlds and is the model to consider in 2023.
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 acoustic sound waves into electronic signals. The amplified sounds are processed using various algorithms to help practitioners detect and interpret clinical anomalies. Using Bluetooth technology, the data can also be sent to a smartphone or a tablet for further analysis or to get a second opinion.
Digital stethoscopes are more expensive than their analogic counterparts. It is somehow challenging to compare the comfort of use they offer, especially the sound quality obtained, with the ambient noise reduction technology.
They can also be beneficial for medical students. They allow hearing the patient’s sounds more clearly. For some of them, the associated app offers the possibility of recording and saving the clinical examination for later review or seeking 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 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.
- Connects to Eko software to visualize and share heart sound waveforms (smart device not included)
- Up to 40x amplification (at peak frequency, vs. analog mode)
- Active noise cancellation reduces unwanted background sounds
- Toggle between analog and amplified listening modes
- Soft-sealing ear tips provide an excellent acoustic seal and comfortable fit; Tunable, dual-sided...
With a total weight of 8.1 ounces (232 grams), the 3M Littmann CORE is lightweight and comfortable to wear and a durable piece of equipment that incorporates numerous technological breakthroughs. For example, the sounds are amplified up to 40x, and with a proprietary ambient noise reduction technology, cancels 85% of the background noises.
The Littmann electronic stethoscope is perfect for veterinarians with its frictional noise reduction technology. Easy to use and durable, it offers charges via micro-USB. One charge of the lithium-ion battery offers 8-hour life. In addition, 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 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 earpieces.
With a two-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 robust sound amplification that is 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.
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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. The company remains true to these core principles more than fifty years later.
The E-Scope is lightweight and is excellent 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, corresponding 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 easy increase and decrease. The sound amplification offers 64 levels for precise adjustment and restarts once switched off and on at the previous setting.
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 set. 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. The E-Scope is an excellent choice with a one-year warranty, even though its 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. Finally, 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? Then, 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. In addition, 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 regular use. In addition, the attachment unlocks real-time phonocardiogram potential when paired with the free Eko Mobile App, compatible with smartphones and tablets with iOS 7 or Android 5.0 and up.
The Eko Core Digital Stethoscope Attachment is comfortable, durable, and reasonably priced. If you already own an analog stethoscope and want to enjoy the benefits of an electronic stethoscope, the Eko attachment is genuinely 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 out 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! The one combines the best technology and materials with a unique form factor. To date, the control it offers on amplification and filtering is unrivaled. Using earphones instead of standard binaural tubing may be pretty disturbing for some. All of these innovative features somehow come at a price. Check our review of the Thinklabs ONE.