Tutorial: Making ringtones.

You can use Sound Studio to easily create your own ringtones using just about any audio file you already own, or using sound or audio streaming you've recorded.

What you need:
  • An audio file in a format recognized by Sound Studio
  • Sound Studio 4 application (we use version 4.2 in this tutorial)

Step 1: Import into Sound Studio and trim your ringtone.

Open your audio file in Sound Studio. If your file is in Apple Music, you should navigate to your Apple Music folder in Finder and then drag and drop the file onto your Sound Studio icon in the Dock or in Finder.

Now select the audio you want to use for your ringtone. Select about 10 to 20 seconds of audio in the file by clicking and highlighting the audio. You can press the Play button to preview your selection.

When you’re satisfied with your selection, click on the Crop tool, which will delete everything else in the file that isn’t selected. The Crop tool is in the toolbar and can also be accessed under Edit > Crop.


Step 2: Editing your ringtone.

Editing your ringtone is optional. Recent commercial music probably doesn't need sound editing before going onto your phone, so you can probably just skip to Step 3 to save your ringtone. If your audio clip doesn't seem loud enough or you're using a recording you've made, consider normalizing your audio using the Normalize filter in Sound Studio.

In Sound Studio, go to Filter > Normalize. Peak normalization adjusts the audio levels throughout the file by the same amount until the peaks get to a specified level, while RMS normalization adjusts the level throughout the file based on the average (RMS) level. You want the sound of your ringtone to be loud enough without any clipping or distortion. You should set levels to between -6 and -12 dB, search the file for the loudest Peak level, and then calculate the amplification "Together for all tracks."


Step 3: Saving your ringtone in the right format.

For this tutorial we’ll assume you’re saving a ringtone for your iPhone. If you have another type of phone, see our notes below.

The iPhone uses the .m4r file format, which has an AAC audio codec. This means that you can save your file in AAC (.m4a), and then click on the file name and simply change the extension from .m4a to .m4r.

Connect your iPhone to your computer, launch your Apple Music app, and drag your new .m4r file onto your iPhone shown under Devices in the left side column. Unfortunately in the Apple Music app, you will not get feedback that the ringtone was added to your phone. You can instead check for the ringtone on your iPhone by going into your iPhone's Settings > Sounds & Haptics > Ringtone.

About ringtone types and file formats. Ringtones come in several formats, including monophonic, polyphonic, truetone, and video tone. Monophonic ringtones can only play one note at a time, while polyphonic ringtones can play several notes simultaneously. Truetone is an audio recording, like an excerpt from a song, and video tone is an excerpt of a video.

Newer phones and smartphones usually support truetones. Android phones by default accept the Ogg Vorbis file format (.ogg file extension).

About stereo and mono files. Regardless of the file format required, some phones will require mono ringtone files rather than stereo files. If your phone requires a mono file (one-channel file) and your audio file has two tracks (stereo, two-channel file), then in Sound Studio, you can go to Audio > Mixdown to Mono to easily convert your file to mono.


Summary checklist for making a ringtone

  1. Import your file into Sound Studio. Use the Crop tool to make an audio clip about 10 to 20 seconds long.
  2. If needed, apply peak normalization to your audio. You probably don't need to do this unless you're using a recording you made or your audio file is on the quiet side.
  3. Save your ringtone in the appropriate format. For an iPhone, save in AAC (.m4a) format, and then change the extension to .m4r. Sync the file onto your device using Apple Music.
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