Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1 (Which One Is Ultimately Better?)


The Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1 has 7 differences and 13 similarities. Scroll down to learn more.

Caring for a newborn baby takes a lot of work, especially if you’re breastfeeding or your husband isn’t helping at all. There will be days where you’ll just want to take a break and get your body back, even for a short while. 

Enter breast pumps, which might just be one of the most genius ideas anyone can have for mothers. It’s now a must-have newborn essential, especially if you need to go back to work. Or you need others to take care of your baby while still giving your little one your breastmilk. 

If you’re thinking of how the Medela Symphony fares against the Spectra S1, then this article is for you.

I have done a thorough research on both breast pumps. I checked online reviews, Reddit, instruction manuals and even asked their customer service about certain features.

Let’s start with a comparison table for the Medela vs Spectra

I hope you’ll love the products we recommend! Just a quick note: if you click on a product link below and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

In a hurry? We highly recommend Spectra S1 Plus. It has an equally powerful motor and is not as heavy nor as expensive as the Medela Symphony.

Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1: Feature Comparison Table

This is best viewed on a desktop. Here’s a quick comparison guide on the features of the Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1 Plus.

FeaturesMedela Symphony Spectra S1 Plus
PriceExpensive as f*ckExpensive
Insurance• Rent though insurance
• Can be fully covered by insurance
• Rarely covered by insurance
• Have to pay upgrade fee
BatteryHas rechargeable and non-rechargeable battery versionHas built-in rechargeable battery
AccessoriesBottles and double pumping kit is sold separatelyComes with complete set of breast pumping kit
Weight7.05 lbs3 lbs
Built-in LED lightLED display screen onlyAvailable
Warranty• 3 year warranty on motor
• 90 day warranty on accessories
• 3 year warranty on motor
• 90 day warranty on accessories (must come with motor)
Hospital-gradeYesYes
Closed-systemYesYes
BPA-free partsYesYes
Powerful motorYesYes
Adjustable pumping modeAvailableAvailable
Saved settingsAvailableAvailable
QuietYesYes
Universal voltage100V-240V / 50-60Hz100V-240V / 50-60Hz
Turns into single and double pumpYesYes
Auto turn off featureAvailableAvailable
ComfortableYesYes, more than the Medela
Easy to cleanYesYes
Customer serviceGenerally quick and responsiveGenerally quick and responsive

Below is more detailed info on the differences between the Spectra S1 vs Medela Symphony.

What’s The Difference Between Spectra S1 vs Medela Symphony

Let’s dive in a little deeper about the differences between the Medela vs Spectra breast pumps.

Price 

The Medela Symphony is way, way, WAY more expensive than the Spectra S1 Plus. Like insanely expensive, it’s almost $2,000 compared to Spectra S1’s $195 price, at least on Amazon.

Insurance

You can rent the Medela Symphony with insurance. Some moms mentioned renting it for $50-$70/ month. 

Others mentioned theirs was fully covered by their insurance, which was quite amazing so better call your insurance if they can also offer that.

Spectra S1 is often not covered not fully by insurance and you have to fork out some upgrade fees to get it, ranging from $40 to $95. You also have to ask around for the lowest upgrade fee to get the Spectra S1.

Battery 

The Spectra S1 Plus is popular for its built-in rechargeable battery, allowing you to pump on the go.

This is helpful especially when you return to work, go on trips and vacations and you basically don’t want to be stuck in one place to pump. Imagine you’re pumping and your super active baby is biting off their crib every 5 minutes or so (my baby used to do this). With the Spectra S1 rechargeable, portable battery, you can easily just get up (several times) and stop them from doing it.

When fully charged, its battery lasts for 3 hours. It’s recommended to charge the Spectra S1 fully, for 4 hours, to prolong its battery life.

The Medela Symphony, on the other hand, has 2 versions – one with a rechargeable battery and one without. 

This Medela Symphony PLUS has a rechargeable battery, while this Medela Symphony electric breast pump is without it.

The one with the rechargeable battery is slightly expensive on Amazon.

You have to fully charge the battery for a freaking 12 hours first but you can use it while charging. That half a day charge gives you 60 minutes of battery time. First I was like, wtf, you’ll be spending half a day charging it and you’re only giving an hour to pump? 

Which I guess it’s okay considering that the Medela Symphony has a powerful motor and you can really get some solid supply of milk from it in such a short time

But omg why does it take so long to charge, what’s even the point of having a rechargeable battery, just get the Medela Symphony electric breast pump then ..sorry I digress.

Accessories 

The Spectra S1 Plus comes with a complete set of accessories, which includes: 

  • Two (2) 24mm Spectra Breast Flanges.
  • Two (2) 28mm Spectra Breast Flanges.
  • Two (2) Spectra Tubing.
  • Two (2) Spectra Duckbill Valves.
  • Two (2) Spectra Backflow Protectors. Includes silicone membrane, uppercase, and lowercase for each Backflow Protector.
  • Two (2) Spectra Wide Neck Storage Bottles. Includes nipple, cap, disc, and lid for each Bottle.
  • One (1) Spectra 12-Volt AC Power Adapter. Includes detachable power cord prongs.

The Medela Symphony set includes accessories like:

  • Symphony 2.0 Program Card
  • Container stand
  • Quick start card 
  • Protector for card/cord
  • Instructions

Bottles and the double pumping kit are not included in the Medela. For its price, that’s quite a bummer.

Here’s more accessory-related info/tips on the Spectra S1:

  • Accessories are available on their website, Amazon (iServe vendor only), Target, Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Amazon (iServe/Pattern ONLY).
  • Buy extra accessories, especially flanges and tubing, just in case.
  • Some moms recommended getting Pumping Pals flanges.
  • Medela and Avent storage bottles are apparently compatible with Spectra, according to some moms
  • Replace accessories according to the table below:
Medela Symphony vs spectra s1 accessories replacement frequency
pic from Spectra
  • Get a carrying case and a hands-free pumping bra for convenience

Here are some tips and info on Medela Symphony’s accessories:

  • Accessories are also available on their website, Amazon, Target, Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath and Beyond.
  • Breast pump kit includes:

• (2) 24 mm PersonalFit breast shields

• (2) PersonalFit breast shield connectors

• (2) 5 oz/150 ml breast milk bottles with lids

• (2) tubes

• (2) valves

• (4) membranes

• (2) membrane caps

• (2) protective membranes

• Breastfeeding Information Guide and Instructions

  • Some customers said the bottles are thin and one even share that it started melting when they sterilized it
  • Some moms complained of moisture getting in the tube most of the time

Weight 

The Medela Symphony is also more than twice as heavy, weighing 7.05 lbs, compared to Spectra S1‘s 3 lbs. 

Built-in LED Light

The Spectra S1 Plus has a built-in nightlight that enables you to see in the dark while pumping, especially when your kid is sleeping. Its nightlight has 2 light modes.

spectra s1 vs Medela Symphony
pic from Spectra

The Medela Symphony has only a LED display screen.

Warranty

Spectra S1 Plus has a 2 years warranty on pumps and 90 days warranty on accessories (must come with a breast pump).

While the Medela Symphony has a 3-year warranty and also a 90 days warranty on its accessories.

And that’s basically the main difference between the Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1 Plus.

Similarities of Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1

Now let’s take a look at Medela vs Spectra’s similar features.

Hospital Grade 

Both Medela and Spectra are considered hospital-grade (multi-user) breast pumps. 

Closed System 

Both the Medela vs Spectra breast pumps are closed system pumps.

This means both have a barrier that blocks the milk from entering the pump, for hygienic and safety purposes. 

BPA Free Parts 

Both the accessories of Spectra S1 vs Medela Symphony (those that touch the breast milk) are BPA-free.

Powerful Motor 

Both the Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1 have powerful pumping motors. Both allow you to pump less, for more milk. 

Some moms shared that with the Medela Symphony, they can consistently pump from 5-7 oz on each side in only 10 minutes. 

The suction rate of the Spectra S1 goes up until 270mmHg while the Medela Symphony goes from 50 to 250 mmHg.

It might seem though that the Spectra outpumps the Medela. But one mom mentioned that she has used the Medela since 2014 and it’s only by 2020 that it started to break down. That’s how long-lasting and powerful the Medela motor is.

The Spectra S1 on the other hand has some complaints about its weakening suction power after several months of use.

One mom also shared that it takes her 20-25 minutes to empty with the Spectra S1 and only 15 minutes with the Medela Symphony.

That means a lot, especially if you’re busy with work and/or baby and you need to shorten your pumping session which can affect your milk supply.

Adjustable Pumping Mode 

Spectra S1 Plus has 2 adjustable pumping modes.

One is the Massage mode which stimulates the letdown reflex. Its vacuum strength can be adjusted from levels 1 to 5.

The second is the Expression mode, which can be used after the Massage mode. It has a vacuum strength of up to level 12 and has 5 cycle speeds.

The Expression mode’s adjustable speed enables you to choose how fast or slow the pumping can be. You can adjust it to how your body responds to it or mimic it to your baby’s nursing ways.

Spectra S1 starts at the Expression mode but you can easily switch it to Massage mode and vice versa when needed.

Moms find the personalized setting useful as there will be times when they need a more powerful suction.

Some moms find the range of settings overwhelming since you need to keep on trying and adjusting it to find the right one for you. 

Medela Symphony also has 2 pumping modes or what they call phases.

The first is the Stimulation phase which mimics the letdown reflex. Its vacuum can be adjusted until level 4.

The second is the Expression phase, which supports milk production. Its vacuum can be adjusted from level 1 to level 6.

The Stimulation phase will automatically change to the expression phase after two minutes, so you don’t need to adjust it. 

There’s less adjusting to do with the Medela Symphony since they offer fewer vacuum-level options.

Saved Settings

The Spectra S1 remembers your last pumping mode setting so you don’t need to adjust it every time you pump.

The Medela Symphony stores the last vacuum setting in the stimulation phase.

Super Quiet

Both the Spectra vs Medela have really quiet motors, below 45DB.

So quiet that you can pump beside your sleeping baby or you can use it at work, without distracting anyone. Its noise level is more like white noise so definitely not loud.

Universal Voltage

Both the Spectra S1 Plus vs Medela Symphony have a voltage of 100V-240V / 50-60Hz, which allows you to use it anywhere in the world! 

Turns into Single and Double Pump

Both the Medela breast pump vs Spectra S1 Plus can turn into a double or single pump easily.

Automatically Turns Off

Both the Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1 automatically turn off after 30 minutes of pumping time.

Comfort

Both the Medela vs Spectra breast pumps are comfortable, to use, more so the Spectra S1, as based on online reviews.

A lot of moms have mentioned that the Spectra S1 is gentler and softer than the other pumps. They said it’s so much more comfortable to use, compared to other brands, even the Medela breast pump.

Easy to Clean

Both the Medela breast pump vs Spectra S1 are easy to clean.

The Medela pump kit parts can be sanitized by boiling or by using their Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam bag (sold separately).

Medela Symphony cleaning instructions
pic from Medela’s instruction manual

The Spectra S1 is also convenient to clean and assemble. Some moms even said that the Spectra is easier to clean, compared to Medela.

Customer Service

Both the Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1 offer an overall amazing customer service. But they are not perfect and some had a not-so-great experience dealing with their customer service team.

Pros and Cons of Spectra S1 vs Medela Symphony

Here’s a general overview of the advantages and drawbacks of the Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1

Spectra S1 Plus Pros

  • Rechargeable battery
  • Cheaper than Medela Symphony
  • Complete breast pumping kit included with the set

Spectra S1 Plus Cons

  • Motor gets weaker over time
  • Not as durable and long last lasting as Symphony
  • Confusing settings

Medela Symphony Pros

  • Powerful motor
  • Less overwhelming settings
  • Longer warranty

Medela Symphony Cons

  • More expensive than Spectra S1 Plus
  • Heavier and bigger than Spectra S1
  • Breast pumping kit sold separately

Medela Symphony vs Spectra S1 – Which is better?

We highly recommend the Spectra S1, hands down.

It’s way more practical, cheaper, and more convenient to carry, than the Medela Symphony.

I hope this article has helped you in finally choosing between the Spectra S1 vs Medela Symphony.