How to choose the right stethoscope

What are the parts and features of a 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.

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, so let’s start from the top.

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. 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 Headset

This is the metal binaural that connects the eartips to the tubing. This is often an overlooked area of the stethoscope, but not at MDF®. We design our stethoscope headsets with premium metals, such as titanium and stainless steel. We use a dual leaf spring to connect the binaural, making MDF® Instruments stethoscope headsets adjustable. You can push the binaural closer together to tighten the fit, or pull them apart to loosen. MDF® stethoscope headsets are also extremely durable. We guarantee them, covered under our Lifetime Warranty.

Stethoscope Tubing

The tubing of a stethoscope is made of pliable pvc material, and all MDF Instruments® tubing is latex free. It is typically dual lumen or single lumen, however there are a few other factors that will affect the sound quality. Since the tubing is a hollow tube that transmits sound from the chestpiece to the eartips, the density of the tube will matter. A thicker walled tube will insulate sound and block out more ambient noise.  

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.

MDF® stethoscope tubing is also longer than most brands to allow you to take a comfortable distance from your patient if necessary, while still giving the best care. 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 our rose gold stethoscopes and other metal finishes.

Stethoscope Chestpiece Stem

The stem of the stethoscope is the part that connects the chestpiece to the tubing. 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.

Stethoscope 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.  
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 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