Ring a bell
You can tell a lot about a person,
if you just listen to the ringtone on his/her cellphone. If you hear the generic
tone as the phone’s original ring setting, than the owner is giving an
impression that the cell is just another tool, not an accessory to personalise.
But if you’re roused by the chorus of a recent top hit, that means the owner
wants you to believe he’s young and hip. On the other hand, if you’re startled
by a screeching noise that refuses to stop, then there is a good possibility
that its one of my friends who has got a nice ringtone with the Star Wars
character Yoda saying ‘Answer the Phone, You Must’.
Customised ringtones are the preferred way for many people to express
themselves. It has been observed that some youngsters and even adults change
their ringtones every week. However, if you have a phone with an MP3 player, you
don’t have to spend anything on ringtones. Moreover, given the lack of variety
that the majority of us face in our ringtone choices, not to mention the
exorbitant cost charged by telecommunication companies for mediocre tones, this
is the best option.
All you need for free ringtones
• Cellphone with MP3 ringtone support.
• CD or MP3 of the song.
• Any device for transferring the ringtone from computer to phone (USB,
Bluetooth, e-mail, instant message, etc.)
• Audio-editing software that allows export to MP3. If you don’t already have
this, Audacity is a good open-source programme you can download for free, and is
available for Windows, Mac and Linux. You’ll also need the LAME library for
Windows, Mac or Linux. (LAME is a free downloadable MP3 codec that enables
Audacity to encode MP3.)
• About 20 minutes of time.
Please note: Audacity requires a minimum of 64 MB RAM and 500 MHz processor on
Windows 98 and 512 MB/1 GHz on Windows XP.
If you are creating your ringtone from a CD, rip the song you want as a WAV
(Windows) through Windows Media Player or equivalent ripper. It’s a good idea to
specify a new ripping location, too, so the ripped song doesn’t end up getting
lost in the rest of your collection.
Once you get the song as a digital music file (whether WAV or MP3), run your
audio-editing software, which in our case will be Audacity.
But if you are creating ringtone from mp3 just copy that MP3 in to a new folder
so that editing does not affect the version of the song.
Set up Audacity
You can get Audacity through the website http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/windows.
Please note: Audacity requires a separate LAME encoder file to work with MP3s.
You can download it from the site as well. Save the LAME encoder file in
Audacity’s folder (typically C:\Program Files\Audacity). If you downloaded a
compressed (.zip) file, decompress it first.
Now open Audacity. Click Edit - Preferences. Select the File Formats tab. Under
‘MP3 Export Setup,’ click the ‘Find Library’ button.
Audacity will prompt you to locate the LAME encoder file. Click Yes, then locate
the file in Audacity’s folder. Select the file and click Open. Now Audacity is
ready for MP3s.
Cut your ringtone
Load your favourite MP3 into Audacity by clicking File - Open. You’ll be
prompted to locate the song on your hard drive. By default, Audacity fits the
song’s entire playtime into the window. For precision editing, click View - Zoom
In. Each time you zoom in, the timeline will become more precise. A timeline
marking every second or every five seconds will do.
Finally, it’s time to cut your ringtone. Press the Play button in Audacity to
listen to the MP3. Note which section of the song stands best as a ringtone. Pay
attention to that section’s place in the timeline.
Highlight the section you want in the timeline then cut and paste. Click and
drag across a section of audio and copy it. Paste it into the same track or a
new track as needed. The process is similar to selecting text in Windows. Press
Play and Audacity will play only that section.
Once you have the piece you like, go to Edit - Copy to get the song snippet then
go to File - New to launch a new Audacity window. When the new window is open go
into it and select Edit - Paste. You now have the sampled song snippet in the
new Audacity window.
If there’s no sound at the beginning of the song, you can remove that section by
selecting it with the mouse and Edit - Delete. On the tail end of your music
sample you may want the song to fade out. Select the two seconds or so and
choose Effect - Fade out. You can visually see the music tapering down. Now you
can export it as it is or you can personalise the ringtone with audio effects.
Audacity comes with several effects so do try them out. I recommend trying the
Echo and Phaser. Each has various settings to tweak. Adding these effects is a
matter of taste, but it adds a bit of spice to the ringtone and makes it more of
an individual statement. You can also mix different tracks from multiple song
Once you’ve got the sound clip you want, click File — Export Selection As MP3.
You’ll be prompted for a location to save the selection. It’s also a good idea
to change the file name. The name should have to distinguish the sound clip from
the complete song.
Use a 56 Kbps Bit Rate. This will lower the quality of your mp3s in general but
would also save space on your limited memory and will barely be noticeable on
the mobile’s speakers.
As a thumb rule, file sizes should have to be around 180KB to 300KB for 20
second to 35 second samples.
Cut all of your ringtones to be 21 seconds long. That’s the amount of time
before the phone rings out i.e. you get a ‘no response’ message on your
cellphone. You’ll still have a full ringtone to hear and nothing more.
Getting the tone onto your phone
It is time to transfer the MP3 ringtone on your cellphone. The easiest way to do
this is by using a Bluetooth, assuming you have already paired your computer and
cellphone. Unfortunately, though many phones accept Bluetooth wireless
connections, the same cannot be said of most PCs.
So what to do then? Well, you can also transfer the tone by connecting your
phone to your PC. Some phones can be connected using a USB cable. The cable is
usually included as part of the mobile tool kit software.
The third and the easiest way to get the ringtone onto your phone is via e-mail,
MMS or SMS. Check your service provider for your phone’s e-mail address. Simply
e-mail the ringtone from your PC to your phone.