Acoustic signals can encode crucial information about species identity and individual quality. We recorded and compared male courtship drum sounds of the sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus and the painted goby P. pictus and examined if they can function in species recognition within sympatric populations. We also examined which acoustic features are related to male quality and the factors that affect female courtship in the sand goby, to determine whether vocalisations potentially play a role in mate assessment. Drums produced by the painted goby showed significantly higher dominant frequencies, higher sound pulse repetition rates and longer intervals between sounds than those of the sand goby. In the sand goby, male quality was predicted by visual and acoustic courtship signals. Regression analyses showed that sound amplitude was a good predictor of male length, whereas the duration of nest behaviour and active calling rate (i.e. excluding silent periods) were good predictors of male condition factor and fat reserves respectively. In addition, the level of female courtship was predicted by male nest behaviour. The results suggest that the frequency and temporal patterns of sounds can encode species identity, whereas sound amplitude and calling activity reflects male size and fat reserves. Visual courtship duration (nest-related behaviour) also seems relevant to mate choice, since it reflects male condition and is related to female courtship. Our work suggests that acoustic communication can contribute to mate choice in the sand goby group, and invites further study.