Happy Birthday to this humble, not quite abandoned blog

This started as a lark on May 2, 2002. It’s gone through several platforms and hosts, but it’s always been mine (with the occasional guest).

Sixteen. I’ve had GruntDoc the blog for 16 years. It should have to take a driving test today.

Anyway, thanks to the 9 of you who still check in from time to time. As Twitter is increasingly awful I expect I’ll do more here soon.

Happy Birthday little blog.

ERKA Stethoscope Review: It’s Really Good!

What’s an ERKA stehoscope? It’s a beautiful, well made ‘scope from Germany, and ERKA is trying to get into the US market. Full disclosure: I was given one to try out and keep on the condition I would write about my experience, and no promises were made about what I’d say.

Also, it should be noted I’m an Emergency Physician, not an audiologist or a professional tester. I have no specific credentials for exaluating anything except unfrosted strawberry Pop-Tarts™, so if you dislike my assessment or feel the urge to quibble, please know I’ll agree with your objection so you don’t have to share it with me.

The one I got is nearly identical in size and weight to the Littman I’ve carried for years, and as they asked I got one in a very-nearly identical color:


It comes with a nice padded case, I’m not sure why (and I didn’t try it), so if a padded case makes a difference to you there it is. It feels German in execution: it’s designed and built by people who Get It, and I absolutely love that. The usual interchangable ear tips are in there, though I found the ones that came on it were the best for me (I like the softer, squishier kind as they make a better seal).

As compared to my daily driver Littman, here are some pics:

What all want to know: does it sound good, does it make the chest noises come to my ears in a pleasing and understandable way? Yes, without doubt. The sounds are at minimum equivalent to the Littman, and maybe better with some judicous pressure on the diaphragm, which stands proud to the edge of the chestpiece rather than slightly recessed as does the Littman diaphragm. It sounds fine. It’s a good stethoscope. You will be happy with the sound quality.

And yet, it’s not going to replace my Littman, and here’s why: Yoke tension is the achilles heel of this ‘scope, and is the only reason I wouldn’t consider it a straight swap. (The ‘Y’ part I’m calling the yoke, I don’t know the techincal term). On the ERKA I found myself taking my non-chestpiece hand and using it to squeeze the earpieces into my ears with some force so I could hear as clearly as I wanted, and that’s something I don’t have to do on the Littman. I did try pulling the yoke across to tighten it, and all that got me was muscle use, it seems impervious to tensioning this way.

The ERKA does come with a notable and excellent warranty, and it’s on a card included in the box:


So there’s that, and it’s nice.


ERKA stethoscope: great sound, comfortable earpieces, not enough yolk pressure for me. And it comes with a pouch! Were I particularly price conscious and wanted a stethoscope made in Germany rather than the USA, the ERKA should get serious consideration.