So I see things like:
Sharanawa has /ɸ/ instead of /β/, and Shanewana has a labiodental fricative /f/ instead of /ɸ/.
where the table shows [β] as the symbol.
That, along with other examples like the dental t [t̪] and such, I'm wondering how the linguists actually figure out the details of how the sound is pronounced. I personally can't hear (yet perhaps) the difference between [t] and [t̪]. I can sort of hear the difference between [β] and [f], but it sounds like sometimes it can be difficult to tell.
So I'm wondering if they just do all this by ear and tape recording, or if they actually sit down with someone and say "show me where your tongue is when you make this sound" type of stuff. Or "are you closing your epiglottis to do that or is your tongue touching your soft palette." Like for the [ʂ] sound found in Hindi, I can sort of hear the difference between that and [ʃ], but you can just do an [ʃ] with a deeper sound without shaping your mouth that way, and the sound is identical to [ʂ] (at least from a hearing perspective, maybe not with a graph, I don't know). So in these types of cases I wonder how they disambiguate, if they are actually examining a speakers anatomy and having them demonstrate, or if it is just an educated guess. Also would like to know how many different people they include in the study, if it is just one or two, or like 10 or 20 or more.
That is, wondering if a linguist sits down, and, in addition to eliciting a bunch of words and stories, they try to elicit all the sounds from the IPA charts, or at least try to get the speaker to perform each of their languages sounds individually somehow, all the while examining their anatomy. Maybe they try [θ] and the speaker shakes their head "No.", "Okay, how about this one: [ʂ], see my tongue here -^", etc.
The figure below also demonstrates how the analysis can lead to different results.