Littmann Cardiology III Review

Burgundy Littmann Cardiology IIIThe Littmann Cardiology III is probably my favorite stethoscope on the market, and my go-to for everyday clinical use. I can easily divide my time at the bedside into two time periods: before cardiology (BC) and after cardiology (AC). Switching from a basic stethoscope to an advanced stethoscope like the Littmann Cardiology III was one of the events that took my assessment and diagnostic skills to the next level. I constantly struggled with missing sounds that my colleagues with better stethoscopes were hearing. If I listed to a set of lungs and they were clear, the respiratory therapist told me that they heard crackles in the bases. If I thought I heard a murmur, by colleague with a better stethoscope couldn’t find it. It was very frustrating, especially when they clinical picture matched what someone else was hearing. My upgrade to the Cardiology III wasn’t taken lightly. It was a pricey purchase. Approximately around $180 when I bought mine.

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Product Name: Cardiology III
Brand: Littmann
Chestpiece Type: Double Sided
Diaphragm Type: Tunable
Length: 27 inch
Weight: 13.6 ounces
Metal Finish Color Options: Black, Brass, Stainless Steel, Rainbow, Smoke
Tube Color Options: Black, Burgundy, Caribbean Blue, Ceil Blue, Chocolate, Coral, Dark Olive Green, Grey, Hunter Green, Lavender, Lemon Lime, Navy Blue, Plum, Raspberry, Red, Sand, Turquoise
Warranty: 5 year
Price: $$$

As with all Littmann products the stethoscope came in a nice box. Key items included with the stethoscope was a spare pair of earpieces, a name tag, and non-chill sleeves. The stethoscope has some weight to it, but I do not find it bulky. I can wear it comfortably for a 12 hour shift without feeling weighed down. As a tall person I always want more length in my stethoscope tubing, but I manage with this model by bringing the patient closer to help save my back. I equate the weight of the chestpiece and tubing more to the quality of the materials than to excessive material use. The tubing is made of a smooth synthetic material that cleans easily. Hanging around my neck for long periods of time can really gum up a stethoscope from skin oils, I don’t see this as much with the material that Littmann uses. When it does start to feel grimy it cleans very easily.

The comfort of the stethoscope continues once in the ears. The tension on the binaural headset is easily adjusted. I have managed to find the perfect balance between preventing my head from feeling squeezed to death and the stethoscope falling out of my ears. Littmann clearly has their user in mind when they provided the nice rubber earpieces for this model. As a male, and someone with a large head I have found other earpieces have trouble creating a good deal, or alternatively dig too deep into my ear canal. This model doesn’t allow that to happen.

Littmann Cardiology III Chestpiece

The craftsmanship in the chestpiece is apparent

On the patient side of this wonderful tool is a wonderfully balanced chestpiece. The diaphragms are made from an excellent resin composite that doesn’t freeze your patient to death. I’m a skeptic at times of the efficacy of tunable diaphragms on some models, but Littmann doesn’t overdo the tunable design. You can easily regulate the pressure to vary the frequencies you can detect. I find this very helpful in large or severely obese patients where effectively auscultating heart sounds can be very challenging.   While I don’t work in pediatrics I have used this scope of my nieces and the pediatric side (also usable as an open bell) works flawlessly. Having worked with numerous vascular surgery patients I frequently find myself utilizing that side of the scope to listen to carotids which allow for excellent detection of carotid bruit.

Key features-

Littmann Cardiology III earpieces

  • Dual-sided chestpiece for use with both adult and pediatric patients
  • Two tunable diaphragms respond with a simple pressure change to capture low and high-frequency sounds
  • Pediatric side convertible into open bell design
  • Two-in-one tube design
  • Anatomically designed ergonomic headset
  • Soft sealing rubber earpieces
  • Epoxy/Fiberglass Diaphragms
  • Stainless Steel Chestpiece


Littmann Cardiology III Diaphragm

Tunable diaphragm functions flawlessly

  • Superior acoustic performance- you can hear the faintest sounds
  • Single tube design- cuts out background noise
  • Tunable diaphragms, and ability to use open bell
  • Good balance of weight and length
  • Ability to use for wide range of patient populations
  • Ergonomic and very comfortable


  • It is spendy $$$- high initial cost
  • Can be over-featured depending on what you need to do

Final Thoughts

Littmann LogoI lend this stethoscope to people on a regular basis, and time and time again I have people tell me how much they can appreciate the quality of the sounds with this model. My physician colleagues are often eager to borrow this stethoscope over others due to the clarity of sound. I take pride in my Littmann Cardiology III, and out of all the stethoscopes on the market I firmly believe that for the price, features, and quality that this is the best stethoscope available. If you are in direct care of patients and assessing multiple organ systems on a regular basis you owe it to yourself to get this stethoscope. Your purchase of a stethoscope of this quality is an investment in your ability as a If you doubt me, find a coworker with one and try to borrow it for a while to see the difference between lower quality models and this one.


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