How To Choose
The Right Stethoscope

When it comes to choosing one of the most iconic tools for any medical professional or student, choosing the right stethoscope can feel daunting.  There’s so many options available and if you’re going to spend hard earned money on it, you need to be sure that you’re investing in a stethoscope that’s going to work for you. If you’re a new student and have never used a stethoscope before, or an experienced medical professional looking to switch up your stethoscope, we’re here to help.

What is a stethoscope and how does it work? To understand what you are buying and how it’s going to work, you will need to know what the different features of a stethoscope are and what they do and how it’s different, and why you should consider an MDF Instruments® stethoscope. Let’s start from the top.

The Anatomy of a Stethoscope

STETHOSCOPE EARTIPS, EARBUDS or EARPIECES

Any way you want to call them, they are an important part of the stethoscope. They are usually made of rubber, pvc or hard olive type, however MDF® eartips are made of hypoallergenic soft silicone.  Where do stethoscope earpieces go?  Headsets are made at a 15 degree angle so the eartips should be worn pointing forward and away from your face.

When thinking about the part of the stethoscope that is going to fit into your ear canal for listening, you want to make sure they are comfortable and block out ambient noise.  Our ComfortSeal™ stethoscope eartips are designed to sit softly in your ear and form a sound bubble to lock in the transmitted sounds that you want to hear.  MDF® silicone eartips are available in three sizes (large, medium and small) and are included with every stethoscope, so you can find the best and most comfortable fit for you.  MDF Instruments® stethoscope eartips are available to any MDF® stethoscope owner for free, as part of our Free-Parts-For-Life Program.

STETHOSCOPE EARTIPS, EARBUDS or EARPIECES

THE HEADSET

What is the stethoscope headset?  The headset is the metal part that holds the eartips in place and connects it to the tubing.  In order to create the optimal pressure on your ears, the headset is made up of two parts, the binaurals and the spring that connects them.  By pulling apart (loosening) or pushing the headset together (tightening), you can adjust the stethoscope to your preferred tension. 

The spring is often an overlooked area of the stethoscope that can fracture over time with normal daily use, but not at MDF®.  One reason is that we design our stethoscope headsets with premium metals, such as titanium and stainless steel. Secondly, we designed a patented Dual-Leaf spring, essentially adding a second spring to strengthen and maintain the desired shape of your stethoscope.  MDF® stethoscope headsets are extremely durable and are guaranteed under our Lifetime Warranty.

Another unique design feature of the MDF headset is the patented SafetyLock™ that the eartip fits around.  Where many other stethoscopes have their eartips fastened directly on the thin metal of the headset, this SafetyLock helps further seal in sound as well as prevent the accidental puncturing of a practitioner’s ear.

THE TUBING

What is stethoscope tubing? This is the longest part of a stethoscope, made of pliable pvc material, and all MDF Instruments® tubing is latex free.  Now, because sound loses its clarity over time and distance, a lot of what you’re hearing can be compromised in this area.  And you want your tubing to be long enough so you can comfortably move around your patient.  It’s also important to make sure that the tubing is thick enough to really insulate those sounds from ambient external sounds, which should be considered if you will need to use a stethoscope in a noisy environment, like EMTs and ICU nurses and physicians. That’s why all MDF® tubing is designed to be longer, thicker and more flexible than other brands.

Tubing is typically dual lumen or single lumen.  Dual lumen tubing will either have two tubes like with a Sprague Rappaport style tube or have a wall down the center of the tube, dividing it into two channels. At MDF Instruments® we tested our traditional dual lumen tubing against our new C34 tubing and found that with this innovative single lumen design, we were able to produce equal, if not better transmission of sound. We took the acoustic engineering principles of concert halls and applied it to the inner walls of our stethoscope tubing, adding 34 sound channels, or groves to reduce sound wave refraction and transmit crisp sound.  What’s also different about MDF Instruments® stethoscope tubing, is that it’s included in our Lifetime Warranty. 

MDF Instruments® offers classic colors of stethoscope tubing, a variety of bright solid colors and printed stethoscope tubing. If you’re looking for a stethoscope with premium sound quality and features, but also a stethoscope that looks beautiful or is fun for you and your patients, check out our Mprints® stethoscope collection, or Metalogy collection featuring metal finishes like Rose Gold, BlackOut, Aqua, and our rainbow colored Kaleidoscope.

CHESTPIECE STEM

What is the stem of a stethoscope? The stem of the stethoscope is the part that connects the chestpiece to the tubing, called the acoustic valve stem.  What you want to know about the stem is the material that it’s made of.  Many stethoscopes claim to be stainless steel, however the stem of the chestpiece is constructed of aluminum or an alloy.  This can be problematic because over time the softer metal of the stem will wear against the denser stainless steel chestpiece and erode.  Erosion of the stethoscope stem overtime may cause sound leakage, so this is why at MDF Instruments® we make sure the stem of the chestpiece is the same metal as the chestpiece and binaural.

Thinking of every detail to enhance sound quality, we’ve also added a patented design to the stem of the stethoscope chestpiece called the GLS or SoundTight™ Glide-Lock-System™.  The GLS will lock the stem of the chestpiece into place, creating a seamless fit and locking in sound, while at the same time allowing the chestpiece to rotate between diaphragm and bell side.

THE CHESTPIECE

The stethoscope chestpeice is a crucial part of the stethoscope for deciding what stethoscope will fit your needs and the needs of your patients. This is the portion of the stethoscope that will make contact with your patient to pick up sounds. A stethoscope chestpiece will either be single head or dual head, with diaphragm side, or diaphragm and  bell side.

What is a stethoscope bell and diaphragm? Thinking of every detail to enhance sound quality, we’ve also added a patented design to the stem of the stethoscope chestpiece called the GLS or SoundTight™ Glide-Lock-System™. The GLS will lock the stem of the chestpiece into place, creating a seamless fit and locking in sound, while at the same time allowing the chestpiece to rotate between diaphragm and bell side.

A dual head stethoscope will provide more options for hearing different sound frequencies and may pick up on more subtle sounds. A dual head stethoscope is recommended by most medical programs and is a great choice for your professional career.A single head stethoscope chestpiece is typically most appropriate for taking basic vital sign assessments or infectious disease control, since they may be available in a single use version.

Single head stethoscopes will offer a diaphragm side only for high frequency sounds, or some brands offer dual frequency diaphragms. With a dual frequency diaphragm, you will need to adjust pressure depending on the type of sounds you would like to hear, either high frequency or low which can be difficult, especially if you are not experienced using this type of stethoscope diaphragm.

MDF Instruments® stethoscope chestpieces have a true bell and true diaphragm to eliminate any guess work and increase your efficiency. To activate either side of the chestpiece, simply turn and rotate the stem of the chestpiece. A green dot indicator on the stem will face the side of the chestpiece with the open sound channel.

MDF® has designed the ProCardial® cardiology stethoscope series and MD One® Epoch titanium stethoscope with a convertible chestpiece. The diaphragm and bell side of the stethoscope chestpiece can easily be converted to either a full dual head pediatric stethoscope or infant neo/natal stethoscope. This stethoscope chestpeice feature is perfect for family practitioners, EMT’s and veterinarians, or anyone who needs to be ready for different patients.
The attachment clips are available separately so you can purchase them later when you need them, which is a great option for students or anyone who plans to study or work with an additional speciality. 

ALL STETHOSCOPES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL

At MDF® we understand that shopping online for a stethoscope can be even harder, which is why we offer a 90-Day Money Back Guarantee for any item purchased from mdfinstruments.com.  This gives you the opportunity to test the stethoscope, for exactly your use and liking, and return it for a full refund if you’re not satisfied.

All MDF Instruments® stethoscopes come with a Lifetime Warranty and Free-Parts-For-Life Program, so you can feel confident in your investment.  Our free stethoscope parts program offers free replacement stethoscope eartips in three sizes and two colors, stethoscope replacement diaphragms and retaining rings, as well as stethoscope non-chill bell rings and stethoscope name tags…for free.

If you’re still not sure what stethoscope is perfect for you, we’re here to offer suggestions and tailor your stethoscope search to your needs.  Get in touch with one of our agents at 818.357.5647 or send us an email at customer.service@mdfinstruments.com.

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The MDF Instruments® ProCardial® is the core cardiology stethoscope. This is the stethoscope for anyone who needs a premium and versatile stethoscope, to be your go-to instrument from school through your career. The design of the ProCardial® is backed by decades of handcrafted stethoscopes and is meticulously constructed with patented designs and premium materials.

How to Choose the Right Stethoscope

When it comes to choosing one of the most iconic tools for any medical professional or student, choosing the right stethoscope can feel daunting. There’s so many options available and if you’re going to spend hard earned money on it, you need to be sure that you’re investing in a stethoscope that’s going to work for you.