Citizen science is an approach that has become increasingly popular in recent years. Despite this growing popularity, there still is widespread scepticism in the academic world about the validity and quality of data from citizen science projects. And although there might be great potential, citizen science is a rarely used approach in the field of bioacoustics. To better understand the possibilities, but also the limitations, we here evaluated data generated in a citizen science project on nightingale song as a case study. We analysed the quantity and quality of song recordings made in a non-standardized way with a smartphone app by citizen scientists and the standardized recordings made with professional equipment by academic researchers. We made comparisons between the recordings of the two approaches and among the user types of the app to gain insights into the temporal recording patterns, the quantity and quality of the data. To compare the deviation of the acoustic parameters in the recordings with smartphones and professional devices from the original song recordings, we conducted a playback test. Our results showed that depending on the user group, citizen scientists produced many to a lot of recordings of valid quality for further bioacoustic research. Differences between the recordings provided by the citizen and the expert group were mainly caused by the technical quality of the devices used—and to a lesser extent by the citizen scientists themselves. Especially when differences in spectral parameters are to be investigated, our results demonstrate that the use of the same high-quality recording devices and calibrated external microphones would most likely improve data quality. We conclude that many bioacoustic research questions may be carried out with the recordings of citizen scientists. We want to encourage academic researchers to get more involved in participatory projects to harness the potential of citizen science—and to share scientific curiosity and discoveries more directly with society.