A. 👌 The very ultimate and topmost form of both the highest spiritual practices of 🗣 Chanting and👂 Hearing is to SING ALONG i.e. KIRTAN.
You should audibly SING ALONG very softly, medium softly, or loudly while hearing the realized song recordings of advanced souls which are drenched with remembrance and love. SINGING ALONG with them multiplies our remembrance millions of times more than only hearing them or singing alone.
This is why all our greatest Gaudiya scriptures like Chaitanya Bhagavata, Chaitanya Charitamrita, etc. are composed by our Acharyas in verse form, not in prose form. So that we can sing along.
Making an additional pro-active effort to SING ALONG with the recordings of the realized souls pleases the Lord infinitely more than the passive effort of just hearing them silently. This is why our call-and-response Kirtan is millions of times more powerful than only hearing.
If hearing to realized recordings has 100% benefit, then gently singing along or call-and-response while doing that very same hearing has 200% spiritual result. Because by singing along we not only hear and receive the mercy (100%) but we call out for it too (100%).
This induces the Lord to award us His deepest remembrance. Because the Lord accepts our SINGING ALONG as our great call for deliverance. In only hearing or singing alone, there is no such direct call to Him. As we are not doing Anu-Sankirtanam in singing alone. Anu means Following, i.e. SINGING ALONG with the great souls.
SINGING alone may not grant the desired results like SINGING ALONG with the recordings of realized souls does. This is why in ancient times, devotees used to seek out and visit the realized souls to SING ALONG or SING IN CALL-AND-RESPONSE with them.
But now due to technology, we are extremely fortunate to have the transcendental sound recordings of the realized souls which are totally equal to hearing them in person. And we can make the most of these recordings if we SING ALONG with these recordings.
It is the highest form of SHUDDHA SADHU SANGA also. Sanga means both ways. Clapping is produced by two hands not one. So if we don't sing along and only hear the recordings of realized sadhus or in person, we are not fully receiving these divine sound vibrations.
Kirtan includes Shravan but Shravan may not include Kirtan. So Kirtan (SINGING ALONG) is much higher than just Shravan (Hearing). This is why some devotees even do Japa along with the divine Japa recordings of realized souls. Then it becomes the most powerful remembrance-inducing Kirtan.
Therefore Kirtan is the King of Navadha Bhakti. This is why Kirtan is the topmost spiritual practice (CC 3.4.71: tara madhye sarva shreshtha nama sankirtana).
The ultimate proof is the Vaishnava Chintamani shastra which proclaims:
agha-cchit smaranam vishnor
kirtanam tu tato varam
“The all-purifying REMEMBRANCE of the Lord is normally attained with very great difficulty. But it is effortlessly attained simply by the movement of our lips in the audible chanting during the hearing of Kirtan. Thus Kirtan undoubtedly becomes the topmost spiritual practice higher than everything else.”