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Transmit power limitations and quality-impairing channels present key challenges to wireless communications. A possible solution to these problems is the application of user-cooperation techniques so as to improve link quality. This paper studies the tradeoffs involved in combining user cooperation with practical source and channel coding in systems featuring rate-adaptive source and channel coding of conversational traffic. Performance is measured through the D-SNR curve, which measures the relation between end-to-end distortion and channel signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). The D-SNR curve is accurately characterized as a linear function in log-log scales. Also, it is shown that the tradeoffs involved in combining amplify-and-forward or decode-and-forward cooperation with source and channel coding translates into cooperative schemes showing a decrease in distortion at approximately half the rate as non-cooperative schemes but with larger coding gain. Because of this, the studied non-cooperative schemes show better performance only at high SNR. In addition, the D-SNR characterization is used to compare amplify-and-forward and decode-and-forward cooperation for channel codes of different strength and to study the effects of source codec efficiency, where it is shown that diversity gain is reduced proportionally to the source codec loss of efficiency.