The intensity of female preference for call characteristics is measured in two-speaker playback tests with female Iberian midwife toads ‘Alytes cisternasii’ using an experimental design that allows quantitative comparisons across characters. Female preferences do not appear to be symmetrical above and below the population mean, female preference being more efficient at discriminating against low quality competing males that at selecting optimum males among good ones. Female preference is significantly more effective selecting males calling at higher call rates (a highly variable call characteristic probably related to the physical state of the male) rather than selecting calls of low dominant frequency (a characteristic of low intra-individual variation, related to male size and age).