His eminence the sheikh [Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen] was also asked: Some students of knowledge suffice by listening to the recording of the lectures of the scholars, is this enough in attaining knowledge?
And are they considered students of knowledge?
And does this affect their creed?
He answered saying:
If they cannot attend; then there is no doubt that these recordings suffice them from attending, but if they can attend; then surely being in presence of the scholars is better and easier for understanding and in having a healthy debate [of the issues of knowledge]. But if they cannot attend, then this is enough for them.
Then, is it possible for them to become talabatul ‘ilm (students of knowledge) while they suffice with just that [i.e. recordings]?
We say: Yes, it is possible if someone puts a lot of serious effort. Just as it is possible for someone to become an ‘aalim [a scholar] by taking knowledge from books. 
But the difference between taking knowledge from recordings and taking it directly from the scholars is: that taking it directly is more easier in gaining knowledge, because it is the easy way: it is possible to ask and query. In contrast to the one who listens to the recordings or reads from books; he needs a lot of effort in gathering and reaching the different branches of knowledge.
As for the questioner saying: ‘does sufficing to listening to recordings affect their creed?
The answer is: Yes it affects their aqeedah (creed) if they listen to recordings of bid’a and he is following them. But if he is listening to the recordings of trusted scholars, then this does not affect their beliefs, rather in fact it increases them in Eeman, establishment, and their following of the correct aqeedah.”
Majmoo fatawaa, tariq tahsil al-‘ilm: pg.46
1. I, Abdulazeez say: This is something many scholars have stated, alhamdulillaah. The intended meaning is: to know your level and the suitable book for that level, and to build on gradually.
I will be posting something on that soon inshaAllaah.