I replied to Elie but he couldn't make out my call. I tried several times and was about to give up when he called again with solid copy. Perhaps he had turned his beam my way. I tried calling one more time. This time he heard my reply and we had a good QSO with several periods of solid copy punctuated by occasional break-ups. These occurred when QSB took the digital signal down to near-invisibility in the FreeDV waterfall. I doubt that good SSB copy would have been possible at those times either.
I managed to make a recording of the end of this QSO so you can get an idea of the audio quality. It was recorded off-air using my Olympus digital voice recorder, then played back using the mic input of the USB sound dongle to make an MP3 file. Given the way it was created I think the clip is quite a good example of the FreeDV audio quality. As you'd expect from a digital signal either it's all there or you just get gobbledygook. It doesn't degrade gracefully.
Is this the future of ham radio? Have a listen and let me know what you think.