What are the Pros and Cons of Digital Stethoscopes

Digital stethoscopes change the way doctors listen to body sounds. With so much to offer, discover what their pros and cons are.

Pros Cons Digital Stethoscope

Stethoscopes have been the symbol of medical professionals for more than 200 years. Nowadays, artificial intelligence and digitalization are everywhere, from a smartwatch that can offer close to e medical-grade electrocardiogram up to a digital stethoscope, automatically detecting atrial fibrillation and helping students train their ears to detect the slightest murmur. Let’s dive into these new medical breakthroughs and highlight their benefits and drawbacks.

What is the history of digital stethoscopes?

The first-ever stethoscope was just a wooden tube invented by Rene Laennec, a French physician, in 1816. The shy young man did not like the idea of having to place his ear on the chest of young females. Chastity changed medicine, and the stethoscope was born. The name is derived from the Greek words stethos, meaning chest, and skopein, meaning to see. Later on, after twenty-five years, George P. Camman came up with the first stethoscope with earpieces. People used it for almost a century without it being modified.

Fast forward to the 1960s, when Dr. David Littman invented the first digital stethoscope. This new stethoscope was developed with enhanced features. He made it into a much more advanced tool for diagnosis. It was later bought by 3M and continued to perform at an advanced level, especially compared to other manufacturers’ stethoscopes.

The cardiology and electronic stethoscopes invented by Littman are now used globally by medical professionals. The Littman stethoscopes have become the leader of all other stethoscopes. If you are a cardiologist, we bet that you have a Littman stethoscope in your white coat pocket!

Market Growth of the digital stethoscope

According to Future Market Insights, the electronic stethoscope is expected to have exponential growth in global sales. From 2019 until 2029, there’s expected to be a gradual growth of US $170.9 million in the digital stethoscope market. Most of the opportunities for the manufacturers are created by medical institutes and ambulatory surgical centers. That’s primarily where there’s increased adoption of digital stethoscopes.

Most of the sales are from amplifying electronic stethoscopes because digital stethoscopes require high maintenance since they’re made up of several different electronic components. Therefore, there’s expected to be a growth in revenue for the amplifying stethoscopes. The increase in sales is influenced by the rise in the number of companies, both small and big, developing electronic stethoscopes.

The increase in regulatory approvals makes the electronic variants replace the conventional stethoscopes quickly in developed countries. There are newer versions that are wireless, Android-connected, and smartphone-enabled digital stethoscopes. The global leader in the electronic stethoscopes market is North America. The growth is due to technology advancements and the presence of multiple healthcare facilities.

Some of the leading manufacturing companies include Eko Devices, Meditech Equipment Co., eKuore, 3M, Thinklabs, GlobalMed, Welch Allyn, Ambisea Technology Corp., Cardionics Inc.

What is the technology behind electronic stethoscopes?

The stethoscope is one of the most efficient tools in helping doctors to find an accurate diagnosis, especially for cardiovascular disease. Since it was invented, it has been upgraded into an efficient digital device. The digital stethoscope works much better than the conventional ones due to the technology used.

It works by converting acoustic sounds to electronic signals, amplified to offer an enhanced listening experience. The electronic signals can be transmitted to computers and laptops after being digitized further. The different modules involved in the mechanism of the digital stethoscopeinclude:

  • Signal processing (collects data for clinical decisions on diagnosis).
  • Data acquisition (for buffering, filtering, and amplification of sound).
  • Preprocessing (filters the digital signals).

A digital stethoscope includes a variety of transducers. The stethoscope diaphragm is used to detect sounds that are then sent to the diaphragm inside the microphone. This leads to the conversion of acoustic sounds to electronic signals. With the digital ones, it’s possible to select various frequency response modes for optimal sound transmission. The capacitive transducers are responsible for noise reduction in the stethoscopes.

Eko Core Digital attachment main

What are the benefits of digital stethoscopes?

Digital stethoscopes have brought about a lot of benefits to the health industry. They make it easier for professionals in specialized fields who can’t hear well using standard stethoscopes. They vary in how efficient they are, depending on the particular brand. However, most of the features and benefits they have shared among different electronic stethoscopes. The benefits include:

Record and replay capabilities

This feature enables clinicians to collect data and later replay it to their patients. This shows them what the clinician is listening to, and the saved data can then be added to the medical records of patients for future reference.

Amplifying sounds

This makes it easier for clinicians to diagnose by amplifying the sounds received by the digital stethoscope. It makes the whole process quicker, and this increases efficiency.

Noise reduction of surrounding noises

The ability to block surrounding sounds makes it easy for clinicians to listen better to what’s going on with a patient without distractions. This feature is available on most digital stethoscopes.

Accurate readings

The digitized stethoscopes help with reducing time through amplifying sounds and tuning them into particular frequencies. This makes it faster for clinicians to conduct a diagnosis.

Visual display

Clinicians can look at what they’re listening to as they check what’s wrong with the patient. This is accomplished through the use of a digital display. This gives more information on what might have been missed through the headphones.


Like how telehealth helps reduce geographical barriers, a digital stethoscope can do the same thing in many ways and is also more efficient than a regular one. It’s efficient in the practice of telehealth because the sound is converted into electronic signals. The electronic signals can then be amplified, replayed, and saved to be shared later to obtain an opinion from medical specialists.

3M Littman Core stethoscope

What are the limitations of digital stethoscopes?

As much as digital stethoscopes have many benefits, they also have some limitations compared to non-electronic ones. They include the following:

They’re expensive

Due to the advanced technology used in creating electronic stethoscopes, they tend to cost several hundred dollars more. Most professionals won’t spend more money to use them since they don’t add to their skills.

Temporary glitches

When other electronic devices such as cellphones are present, digital stethoscopes tend to malfunction at times, interfering with the typical optimal performance they have become known for. Nonetheless, quality stethoscopes can still function well without being affected by these types of interferences.

A bit heavier than their analog counterparts

Due to their design and functionality, they have more components in them. This makes them a bit heavier.

Parts can be expensive to replace

Digital stethoscopes are electronic equipment, and therefore, they’re prone to get damaged more frequently than conventional ones. They can break, and their internal parts will need to be replaced. This costs money. When you invest in one, you should be ready to deal with such costs.

Despite having some disadvantages, the advantages outweigh them. They’re more beneficial than they’re harmful. Therefore it’s still wise to invest in one.

Which one should you consider?

When you’re considering which digital stethoscope to invest in, it’s essential to choose those with great features. The following are some of the models that are worth considering.

Core Digital Attachment


This is the perfect choice for those who need to enjoy sound amplification. It’s easy to carry around due to its minimal design and much lighter than the first-generation one. With the noise cancellation technology plus seven volume levels, you can be sure you’ll enjoy quality sound uninterrupted. You can toggle with one finger from analog to digital.

The digital piece works wirelessly through Bluetooth, and it’s also compatible with popular analog stethoscopes such as 3M Littman and MDF. The battery charges for a short while and can last for 21 days. It real-time unlocks phonocardiogram potential if connected to the free Eko Mobile App. It gives the benefits of excellent pricing and will enable you to enjoy an electronic stethoscope’s features with your analog one.

Eko DUO ECG + Digital Stethoscope


This digital stethoscope has a 40x amplification and a single-lead electrocardiogram (ECG). It has both an ECG and a stethoscope in one. Data can be recorded and shared on the Eko Health App compatible with both Android and iOS.

The battery life is reliable, and when not in use, it will go off automatically. It has a wireless induction charger, includes a noise-cancellation feature, and has 12 volume settings. Both the electrocardiogram and phonogram are shown in real-time when connected via Bluetooth to the Eko app.

3M Littman CORE


It features the latest technologies plus sound amplification and ambient noise reduction. One of the most remarkable features is the fact that it can be used with telehealth. Mobility is easy since it is lightweight and comfortable to carry around. It works well for veterinarians due to its noise reduction technology.

It can be switched to analog with a toggle, and data can be recorded and transferred. It offers durability and has a two-year warranty and a money-back guarantee of three years.


A digital stethoscope is a must-have for any medical professional who works in fields that require fast and precise readings. They come with many advantages, especially for those who cannot hear clearly using regular stethoscopes. It’s also easier to record and keeping patients’ data.

stemoscope main

Another great invention is the stemoscope, a digital stethoscope for STEM classes. It’s affordable and can be used by pet lovers too. It’s small and easily portable, allowing you to listen to breathing and heart sounds easily. It’s great if you want to listen to your body sounds or have a passion for medicine.

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