Abstract: Long-term passive source ocean bottom seismograph (OBS) observatory is challenging due to various technical difficulties. In order to gain experience in this field, and to reveal the lithospheric structure beneath the extinct ridge in the central South China Sea (SCS), we carried out a passive source OBS array experiment, which includes 18 OBSs, in the deep portion of SCS. Here we present the instrumentation, the OBS deployment and recovery of this experiment, and more importantly, the data quality evaluated by a number of approaches. Through processing and inspecting waveforms from global, regional and local earthquakes, we find that most of recovered OBSs have good data quality with discernible main phases. The ambient noise analyses of OBS recordings show that their noise is higher than the global average, and the horizontal component is noisier than the vertical, indicating current impacts on horizontal components are more severe. In the period range of 5–10 s, there is a noise notch for the SCS OBSs, and noise levels of horizontal components are comparable to the vertical. This feature, which is not seen at OBS stations in open ocean, suggests the distant sources for double frequency microseism in this marginal sea are not significant. In addition, we successfully determined the orientations for 7 OBSs by investigating their Rayleigh wave polarizations; and we demonstrated the dispersion feature of Rayleigh waves through the frequency-time analysis. Finally, we summarized lessons learned from this experiment regarding the passive source OBS investigations in SCS.