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. This tutorial explains how to edit your audio file in Sound Studio and save it in the appropriate format as a ringtone for your phone.

Here’s 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: Importing into Sound Studio and trimming your ringtone.

Open the audio file you’re going to use for your ringtone in Sound Studio. If it’s in iTunes, you should navigate to your iTunes Music folder in Finder and then drag and drop the file onto your Sound Studio icon in the Dock or in Finder. This automatically opens the file in Sound Studio.

Select about 10 to 20 seconds of audio in the file that you’ll keep as your ringtone. First, you’ll need the File Duration tool so that you can see the length of any audio you select. Go to View > Customize Toolbar and drag the File Duration tool to your toolbar.

Then, select the section of the file you want to keep as your ringtone by clicking in the editing window and then dragging until you’ve highlighted the section you want. Look at the File Duration tool to see the total length of your selection, which should be about 10 to 20 seconds. You can press the Play button to preview your selection and go to Audio > Loop (keyboard shortcut Command + L) to loop playback.

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.

If you're going to normalize your audio, in Sound Studio, go to Filter > Normalize. Peak normalization adjusts the signal level throughout the file by the same amount until the peaks reach 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 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, read our notes below for ringtones on phones other than the iPhone.

For the iPhone, save your ringtone first in AAC (.m4a) format. iPhone ringtones are in the .m4r format, which is essentially the same as the .m4a format, but with a different file extension. After you save the file, click on the file name and simply change the extension from .m4a to .m4r.

Then, launch iTunes and drag your new .m4r ringtone file into your iTunes Library. Your ringtone will show up under Tones. When you next sync your phone, make sure to check the box for Sync Tones. That’s it! Build your own ringtone collection on your phone. Create ringtones for other people. Have fun!

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 typically support truetones. iPhones use the .m4r AAC file format. 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 you can go to Audio > Mixdown to Mono to easily convert your file.


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. Import into iTunes, and sync with your iPhone.
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