Tuesday, October 03, 2006

DIY Ringtones

So I have always hated the fact that I have to buy ringtones of songs that I already own. This is really true when the ringtone just isn't right. You know what I mean, you preview it on the mobile phone website and either the volume is off or the clip was so lazily made that it doesn't even get the best part of the song.

A while back I had searched for ways to make your own ringtones and came up empty. First you have the problem of making the tone, which is easily overcome if you have a tool like SoundForge or some other editing software for MP3s. But then you need to get it to your phone. That was a puzzler for me.

So I finally did another search the other day, thinking that maybe someone had solved the problem. Sure enough, there were a whole slew of products--all of them fairly inexpensive or freeware. I chose AudioGizmo because I am a sucker for reputation reviews. As you can see from the pic, AudioGizmo is pretty straight forward if you've done any sort of audio editing. It has the basic tools you'll need to take an MP3, snip out the part you want, create a fade in and out, and adjust the amplification to make it loud enough. Then you just press the upload button and it sends it to their servers while sending an SMS message to your phone so you can retrieve it.

The main drawbacks are with transparency on the phone side. I got a lot of errors about incorrect file type or that the download stalled. Frustrating because these often came with hefty bytes transferred, and since most cell plans put you on a budget of megabytes per month this could be a problem. An additional problem is in the fact that cell phones are still limited in the amount of hard drive space they carry, so you have to be careful about how large the file is and weigh that against the quality of the file. Compression becomes a real issue. Since the phone company has a vested interest in you purchasing your tones from them they are definitely not going to make it easy for you to make your own.

On the plus side, after some futzing with the file I was able to upload the exact ringtone that I wanted--The Mummies singing "Stronger Than Dirt"--a tone that I would have never been able to get off of the Cingular site. Just the way I like it.

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