Choosing a Stethoscope - Littmann Master Classic II vs. Classic II S.E.



I start my clinicals in the fall and am deciding between Littmann's Master Classic II and Classic II S.E. stethoscopes. The Master Classic II has better sound quality, you don't have to flip the head depending on what you are auscultating, and the oval shape is easier to fit under a bp cuff. However I've heard the Classic II S.E. is easier to learn with for beginners.

My scholarships will cover my stethoscope so I'm not worried about price. Just want to know if any of you have one of these, what you think of it, and what you have heard regarding usage of these stethoscopes?

Thanks in advance!


4,123 Posts

Specializes in NICU. Has 8 years experience.

Either one of those would be a very good choice for you. I would go with the SE because of the turnable head. The master classic II relies on pressure on the head to hear high and low frequency sounds which may cause you to not hear something until you become proficient at it. The mistake that new students make is buying the cheapest stethoscope they can find. You miss a lot with the cheap stethoscopes. When I started in the healthcare field I bought a big two tube sprague stethoscope. It wasn't until I used someone else's Littman that I realized that I could hear things much easier with theirs. I now have a Cardiology III. It may be overkill for what we need, but it was a gift from my boss (Pulmonologist) for nursing school. He told me " you are getting older (46) and you need all the help you can get to hear things." I plan on using it until I retire or can't get parts for it.


157 Posts

I have the classic SE II... It was the one my school listed on our book list so it's what most people in my program have.


17 Posts

I have the classic SE II in purple and I love it. The turnable head is a good thing because with the other one your depending on knowing the correct amount of pressure to apply, which is a technique that will take a while to completely understand. I can hear amazingly on my classic and it's pretty lightweight. A lot of people in my program have heavier steths and it makes their necks hurt at clinical. Also, I've never had a problem with blood pressure cuffs. Normally my cuff is slightly above where I place my steth when taking a BP so I have no problem at all.

Overall, their both Littmann's so they'll both be amazing. This is just my experience! Hope you have an amazing first semester!!! Nursing School is truly awesome so make sure to try and enjoy it through all the stress. :up:

Specializes in ER, progressive care. Has 7 years experience.

I would go with the Classic II S.E. for the reasons mentioned above. I had a Classic II in nursing school and it was great. I upgraded to a Cardiology III since then, but still use my Classic II as a back-up if needed.

Here is a chart comparing the different Littmann stethoscopes, including an acoustics performance scale and the best applications for each scope.


92 Posts

I started my first semester with a Littmann Classic II and it served me well, but just upgraded to a Cardiology III for better acoustics. I have a slight hearing lose, so wanted to make sure I didn't miss a thing. I purchased mine through because they have the best prices. Ordered my stethoscope at 5:30 pm Monday and it arrived the next day.

I have a Classic II SE with Carribbean Blue tubing and rainbow head - I hear well with it and its quite the conversation piece!

Our school requires the two head model, so I have the Classic II SE, it is a very good 'scope.

Also, a minor point, but most instructors will tell you that you should not have the edge of the stethoscope under the BP cuff anyway.

I am also an EMT and I use an Ultrascope on the trucks. People that I know that work in medical helicopters swear by Ultrascopes because of how well they can hear in that noisy environment. It is also easier to hear through clothing. Ultrascope will never beat Littmans for popularity, but when or if you upgrade give one a listen. I am sure you will find one or more wherever you work, that someone will let you borrow. You may be amazed.


144 Posts

I have a classic cardiology black edition. I LOVE it. Sound quality is great and it has held up 9 years in 911 EMS. So it is definitely durable!


400 Posts

Specializes in ER.

I have a Classic S2 and can't stand it. I don't feel like I hear anything with it!

I have a Littman Cardiology 3 and its ok. I don't like the tubing it is sticky and catches on my hair. It's a beautiful red and looks lovely. Sound quality is decent but not what I wanted for the price.

My favorite go-to stethoscope is actually my cheapest. It's my adscope 603. I got the frosted glacier color. Sound quality is slightly better than my Littman 3.

Double-Helix, BSN, RN

1 Article; 3,377 Posts

Specializes in PICU, Sedation/Radiology, PACU. Has 12 years experience.

I have the Master Classic II. It's served me well for 6 years both in school and in practice with pediatric patients and adults. I have no complaints. It's a great stethoscope. It's picked up a few grade 1 heart murmurs for the that have been overlooked by others. But I have to say that to this day I can't distinguish between the bell and diaphragm sounds, and i have no idea how much pressure I need to apply to get it to switch over. The two sided head of the Classic II can be helpful if you're listening on a small patient and need to isolate the sounds more than you can with a larger stethoscope head.

PatMac10,RN, RN

1 Article; 1,164 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Education, CVICU, Float Pool. Has 10 years experience.

We were required to have a dual head stethoscope. I like the Littman Classic II! I have no issue with BP's bc my cuff is usually a little higher above the site I'm trying to auscultate. A comparable brand is MDF, very good quality, but much cheaper than Littman.

I plan on buying a Cardiology III when I graduate in 5 weeks as a present to myself before going to work as a critical care nurse!!!!