Duolingo's pronunciation is better than Google Translate TTS but worse than professional audio courses. Sometimes I wonder whether it is a TTS or a real persons' speech which is sometimes cut into pieces to rearrange words.
Dear French people, have you tried the French course? Is this pronunciation ok for a start? :)
Not French, but I've lived in France for 3 years and have a decent idea about pronunciation. It's obviously not as good as a human native speaker, but it's closer to the real thing than many non-native speakers. It's more than good enough to start with, after which you can supplement your knowledge with real speakers (on youtube for example).
I am French and can understand your trouble hearing some of the words. I remember one in particular 'les chats boivent du thé' where the voice nearly swallows the 'b' and the 'v' in 'boivent'. Another bizarre pronunciation : in one of the exercises, the voice says 'personne' with a closed 'o' like 'coast', which is not correct. And you're right about the cut and paste work forming sentences with a weird sound to them. Yet most of the time, I believe it is good enough for a start.