Best Electronic Stethoscopes 2018
The best electronic stethoscope gives a major advantage in auscultation over even the best traditional stethoscope. With sound ampifications of up to 20 times while maintaining impressive sound quality, it makes the most difficult auscultations easy. Some confuse electronic stethoscopes with an amplifying stethoscope, although these are not synonymous. We’ll explain more below.
The newest electronic stethoscopes on the scene come with impressive algorithms that can identify and differentiate sounds. It’s able to recognise bodily sounds and discern this from added artefact sounds from clothing or handling.
When choosing a scope, you will want to be sure that it meets your needs and helps you get your work done. While many healthcare practitioners swear by acoustic stethoscopes and will continue to use them, many modern professionals are rapidly adopting the new electronic stethoscope models. Some of the advantages of an electronic stethoscope (or amplifying stethoscope) over traditinal acoustic models are indisputable.
Choosing a scope goes beyond price, word-of-mouth and brand names. You will want to choose something that serves your purposes and gives you the information that you need.
In this post we will discuss and review different electronic stethoscopes, finally presenting you with our top choices.
The Electronic Stethoscope
|Littmann 3200 Stethoscope||Check Price →|
|Littmann 3100 Stethoscope||Check Price →|
|Thinklabs One Digital Stethoscope||Check Price →|
One of the most advanced stethoscopes available is the electronic stethoscope, sometimes called an amplifying stethoscope. This article is designed to help you choose the best electronic stethoscope for your needs.
Here are some characteristics of an electronic stethoscope…
Most of the amplifying stethoscopes on the market have an audio output signal that allows you to transmit data real-time using accompanying software. This software may contain algorithms developed for the interpretation and diagnosis of the audio output obtained through the stethoscope.
Audio output can then be saved and transmitted electronically via email for viewing by other professionals. Some stethoscopes allow transmission of data through a videoconference unit.
One of the common problems associated with the acoustic stethoscope is the incredibly low sound level. The electronic stethoscope helps solve this problem by amplifying the sounds of the body.
Electronic stethoscopes require the conversion of acoustic sound waves into electronic signals. These signals are transmitted through circuitry that optimizes the sounds for listening at various frequencies.
This circuitry also permits the sound to be digitized and to reduce ambient noise to allow the medical professional the best environment for making a correct diagnosis of what he or she is hearing.
All electronic stethoscopes require some form of power to run the electrical components inside. The power source will vary depending on the type of stethoscope you are using.
Amplifying stethoscopes commonly use either AA, AAA, lithium or rechargeable batteries. Some stethoscopes offer a visual indicator of the power level for the user to see on a liquid crystal display (LCD) on the chest piece or the scope module itself.
Digitizing stethoscopes use AC 120 V power cords instead of batteries. They also have a light that indicates when they are powered on.
Most stethoscopes include some type of audio or visual signal when the power is running low. These stethoscopes will never shut off in the middle of an examination.
If the plug should come out from the wall, the user will immediately be aware of this.
Some electronic stethoscopes are referred to as “digitizing stethoscopes” because of their ability to convert audio sound to a digital signal. They can also transmit serialized audio data that can be shared in real-time or stored and forwarded later.
Digitized stethoscopes work by detecting sound through the electronic sensor and converting that sound to electricity. The sound is then run through circuitry that that amplifies, filters according to frequency and converts it from analog to digital.
Once the data has been digitized, it can be sent through a videoconference unit or through computer software across a network. In order for one electronic stethoscope to transmit data using USB to store and forward software, there must be another electronic scope at the receiving end to convert the digital signal to analog, amplify the sound, filter the frequency and transmit the sound to the human ear.
Choosing an Electronic Stethoscope
Selecting a stethoscope for your work goes beyond brand names and price. To make a good purchase, you will need to consider the following:
- Chest piece — Look for a high-density chest piece constructed out of steel or titanium. Harder materials conduct sound better than softer metals such as aluminum.
- Headset — The headset should be made from the same high-density material as the chest piece and angled at 15 degrees.
- Diaphragm — The diaphragm should be sturdy to resist punctures and other damage.
- Ear tips — Ear tips are critical in ensuring accurate readings. They should fit comfortably and securely in your ear to create a seal.
Unlike the acoustic stethoscope, electronic stethoscopes are unique in their methods of sound detection. The simplest method is to place a tiny microphone in the chest piece of the scope.
This method is the least effective of them all and has the potential for increased noise interference. Another method involves the placement of a piezoelectric crystal at the head of a metal shaft.
This shaft is then placed inside the head of the stethoscope with the bottom end touching the diaphragm. Some stethoscope manufacturers prefer to place the crystal inside foam behind a thick diaphragm made of a rubber-like material.
Others use an electromagnetic diaphragm with a conductive inside surface. This configuration creates a capacitive sensor and responds to sound waves in the same manner as the traditional acoustic scope.
However, instead of the sound causing physical changes in air pressure, the sound alters the electrical field. This type of electrical stethoscope preserves the sound of the acoustic scope with the benefits of amplification.
Because there is a significant difference between the acoustic stethoscope and the electronic stethoscope, medical professionals have commented on how the electronic scope takes some getting used to. With repeated use, most practitioners come to recognize and appreciate the quality of sound obtained with an electronic stethoscope.
Some of the best electronic stethoscopes are equipped with recording capabilities, wireless transmission and data output.
1. Littmann 3200 Stethoscope
The Littmann 3200 electronic stethoscope provides a clear and reliable listening experience while inside a busy emergency room or clinic. This stethoscope can operate using Bluetooth to transfer audio files and can connect to any computer that uses Bluetooth.
The scope comes equipped with several different sizes and styles of earpieces for ease of use. This particular Littmann model does not use natural rubber latex for the tubing and is safe for sensitive individuals.
Tube colors will vary from purchase to purchase. The Littmann 3200 stethoscope has a two-year warranty.
Things We Liked:
- Redesigned user interface
- Multiple earpieces
Things We Didn’t Like:
- Weak connection for battery compartment
- Requires batteries
Littmann 3200 Stethoscope Reviews
#1 “Best stethoscope ever!”
#2 “Be careful how you hold it. Light pressure applied to the joint may cause the stethoscope to turn off.”
2. Littmann 3100 Stethoscope
The Littmann 3100 stethoscope features incredible amplification. Chest sounds can be clearly heard in diaphragm and bell modes.
The amplification and noise-cancelling are ideal features for loud environments. Reviewers have commented on the clarity of sound that this stethoscope offers.
Amplifying up to 24X, this stethoscope reduces frictional noise and features a non-chill diaphragm cover. The tubing is made from latex-free materials and is free of phthalate plasticizers.
A two-year warranty covers this scope for replacement or repair if needed.
Things We Liked
- Incredible amplification
- High-quality in bell and diaphragm modes
- Reduces frictional noise
Things We Didn’t Like
- Not compatible with Mac computers
- Does not remove all extraneous noise
- Weak wiring connection in battery compartment
Littmann 3100 Stethoscope Reviews
#1 “The amplification was great and made my seven-year-old’s heart sound like a freight train. I can still hear extraneous noise, though. I have to hold the bell a certain way to prevent the electronics from disconnecting. ”
#2 “Sounds are clearly heard with both modes. Amazing amplification in loud environments.”
3. Thinklabs One Digital Stethoscope
Thinklabs One is the newest and coolest kid on the block. The One features a standard 3.5mm jack to allow you to connect it to the headphones of your choice.
When combined with Thinklabs’ studio-quality headphones, you will be able to hear the deeper bass sounds that the heart makes as well as the treble range of your favorite music. This stethoscope allows you to use multiple filter choices for the best listening experience.
You can pre-set the scope to two favorite filters for a super-quick selection. These filters allow you to easily hear low-frequency sounds and high-frequency sounds with equal ease.
The One uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery to prevent the need for battery replacements. A USB-type charger cable is included along with a universal AC charger.
The battery capacity has been designed to require only one to two chargings per week. The One is compatible with Thinklink.
Thinklink allows you to connect the One with your devices to capture and send your recordings with your iPhone, iPad, Android and Mac/PC.
Things We Liked
- Rechargeable battery
- Multiple filter options
- Easy to hear low- and high-frequency sounds
Things We Didn’t Like
- Requires the purchase of headphones
ThinkLabs One Stethoscope Reviews
#1 “Works as well as a traditional electronic stethoscope, but still susceptible to ambient noise.”
#2 “Can be used with hearing aids for all stethoscopic sounds.”
What is the Best Electronic Stethoscope for You?
Out of these three stethoscopes, Thinklabs One is the clear winner. The high-tech platform and the outstanding quality make it the ideal choice for the healthcare professional who is looking for a new stethoscope for an upgrade or a replacement.
Unlike the Littmann 3200 and 3100, the One is compatible with the headphones of your choice and features superior sound filtration. The rechargeable battery is convenient and will not require replacement or a cord to get in the way while you are working.
Best of all, the scope can connect with your devices for ease of sharing and storage. When choosing the best electronic stethoscope, it is necessary to select one that will meet your needs and that will deliver quality sound. Thinklabs One meets all these criteria to a “T.”
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