Grab tones for phones on cheap
By BOB LEVITUS
My kids' cell phones play snippets
from popular songs as ring tones. I thought it was cute and clever until I got
my mobile phone bill and discovered that each time they downloaded a ring tone I
was charged $2.49.
But $2.49 for a fraction of a song?
I'm sorry, but that is obscene considering a whole song costs a mere 99 cents at
the iTunes store. I told the kids that if they downloaded any more ring tones,
they'd pay for them out of their own pockets. Then, being a computer geek, I set
out to find a legal way to make ring tones on my Mac without paying $2.49 each.
After a bit of sleuthing on VersionTracker.com, I found a handful of Mac OS X
programs that didn't do exactly what I wanted and one that did. That one is
called Ringtone Chop Shop, and it lets you make real-audio ring tones (sometimes
called music tones, voice tones and real tones) out of your MP3 files or audio
CD tracks. It works with all major carriers — including Sprint PCS, Cingular,
T-Mobile and Verizon — and with most phones that support real-audio ring tones.
Furthermore, it's fast, legal, easy to use and will work with Windows. Better
still, it's absolutely free.
Here's how it works. Once you've downloaded and installed the free Ringtone Chop
Shop software, you start by choosing a song on an MP3 file on your hard disk or
an audio CD track. Next, you select the portion of the song you wish to use as
the ring tone. You can trim the ring tone to an exact length using the arrow
keys on your keyboard, which adjusts the total time in of one-tenth-of-a-second
Finally, you enter your mobile phone number and click the Send button. In a few
minutes a message will arrive on your mobile phone, directing you to click a
link to download the ring tone file to your phone.
While Ringtone Chop Shop worked flawlessly with my daughter's Motorola Razr and
my Motorola L2 phones, other real-audio capable phones, including my son's LG
CG225, had issues with the homemade ring tones. He could download and play ring
tones I created, but his phone choked if he tried to save the sound as a ring
tone. We still haven't figured out a fix for that.
Another potential hiccup is that you can't easily make ring tones from protected
AAC files, like the ones sold at the iTunes Store. There's a work-around in the
Ringtone Chop Shop User's Guide if you don't mind a couple of additional steps.