‘No modern communications medium is more intrusive in modern Indian life than recorded and electronically amplified sound’ (Babb 1995, p. 10). In South Asia, even the most exclusive student of unmediated music-making cannot avoid a mediated public soundscape that may well transmit the music being studied over loudspeakers, radios, televisions, and cassette players. This is certainly the case for qawwali, a musical genre which is firmly embedded in Sufi practice, but is also widely recorded and media-disseminated for as long as the life of the Indian record industry itself. Acknowledging this musical reality after years of live study has prompted me first to situate the study of recorded qawwali vis-à-vis my own scholarly conventions and vis-à-vis the pioneering work on sound recording done in the very region of my own study. The aim is to address the problematic of an ethnographic approach to recorded qawwali, and to present preliminary findings, including some culturally meaningful examples from the repertoire.