Make Your Own FREE Treo Ringtones
I’ve never quite figured out the whole craze about buying ringtones – perhaps because I never felt a particularly strong inclination to pay again for just a portion of music that I typically already owned.
At the same time, even though I didn’t want to buy them I admit that ringtones were nonetheless an important issue on my Treo from day one because I found the default ringtone to be somewhat annoying and I just couldn’t seem to ‘warm’ to a single one of the other built-in tones either. I naturally set out looking for options – preferably free ones.
To begin, the Treo 650 natively supports MIDI and WAV audio files [UPDATE: also AMR Narrowband Audio] and third-party applications such as the excellent Ringo Pro ($29.95) add further support for MP3 ringtones (hopefully Palm will see fit to add native MP3 ringtone support in the future) while at the same time providing more sophisticated functionality such as setting ringtones for individual friends and caller groups which the built-in ‘Sound & Alerts’ in Prefs on your Treo cannot do. Also, Ringo Mobile is now available for the Treo 700w.
The biggest benefit of MIDI files is that they are _extremely_ small (typically only 10kb per minute of play) and you can find a ton of these for free online but the downside is that all you can hear are tones and not real singing voices. Next, WAV files have the benefit of native playback and full voices but at the cost of files that can reach multiple megabytes if you choose to have an entire song in this format. Finally, MP3 audio files are typically ideal because you will already have a large collection but the downside is that the files are again comparatively large and that you will have to buy a separate application to play them as ringtones on your Treo.
For each of the three ringtone format options – MIDI, WAV and MP3 – the option was either to 1) buy; 2) download or 3) create or edit my own. However, as I mentioned earlier I wanted to avoid buying so I focused instead on the ‘download’ and ‘create/edit’ routes and below are the ones that I found most viable in each category.
There are an almost endless number of free MIDI download sites available and I found the three below to be at the top of my list.
However, unless you know exactly the sound or artist that you are looking for you may spend hours trawling online before you find one you’d like to use as a ringtone.
I discovered that with the right application I could easily (at the click of a button) convert any of my existing MP3 files to WAV. I found an excellent, extremely simple to use and free program for this called Switch (PC and Mac). However, I quickly learned that converting a CD quality MP3 file (6MB) to a similar quality WAV file resulted in sizes of 40MB+…
Obviously I would have to downgrade the quality of the WAV file if I wanted to transfer it to my Treo ‘Sounds’ folder and still have space to spare. Switch conveniently has four preset MP3–to-WAV encoder settings and I found the ‘Radio Quality’ one at “22.050kHz, 8Bit, Mono” to be the lowest that I could go without too much audio quality loss but this still delivered a 4 minutes long audio file that was 5.3MB – way too big.
However, while testing ringtone calls on my Treo I noticed that the call would automatically be transferred to voicemail after 20 seconds which meant that I could get away with a ringtone that was only 20secs long instead of the 4 minutes that I had before. What I needed next was therefore a program that would allow me to ‘cut’ just the portion of an existing MP3 file to fit the 20secs that I wanted to use as my ringtone. Luckily the same developer that offers Switch have also produced another free application called WavePad Master’s Edition (PC only though) which can do just that.
After launching WavePad I opened my original MP3 file, copied a 30secs section that I wanted to use as my ringtone, further edited the beginning and end with ‘fade in’ and ‘fade out’ effects, applied an ‘auto noise reduction’ effect and then saved the 20secs file at a good quality of “32.000kHz, 8Bit, Mono” which resulted in a file of only 600kb.
As I mentioned earlier, if you woud like to use your MP3’s as ringtones you’ll need to buy a third-party application such as Ringo Pro since the built-in “Sounds & Alerts” only supports MIDI and WAV.
If you have chosen the MP3 route (as many Treonauts seem to have done lately) then you may also like to ‘cut’ your music to have just that particular section of a song that you like played back as a ringtone as opposed to the entire title. Here again, to edit your MP3 to just the 20secs that you need for the ringtone you can also use WavePad.
Using WavePad, open your original MP3 file and find a 30secs section of music that you want to use as your ringtone and further edit down to 20secs. Add a fade out and/or fade in effect then just select ‘Save File As’ and MP3 as the file type. In my case the same 20secs 600kb WAV file was further reduced to just 300kb as an MP3.
Moving MIDI and WAV Files to your Treo ‘Sounds’ Folder
If you’ve chosen to go with natively supported MIDI or WAV sound files which are on your PC the next step will naturally be to transfer these to your Treo. For this, Palm provide a useful support page: “Ringtones: changing, adding and managing on the Treo 650 smartphone”.
I personally found that the easiest option is to email the file to yourself then opening the attachment on your Treo and saving to ‘Sounds’.
Here on the right, a screenshot of my two test WAV files now added and ready to use as ringtones within the default Treo ‘Sound & Alerts’.
Moving MP3 Files to your Treo using Ringo Pro (or other MP3 ringtone manager)
Nothing simpler than copying your MP3’s to your SD card and then opening Ringo Pro to navigate to the folder where you saved them.
If you’re not a huge ringtone fan but like me didn’t find one that particularly made you tick in the standard ‘Sounds’ folder on your Treo then searching and downloading a free MIDI file will be your best and fastest option. The MIDI files are very small but you’ll only get tones and not voice.
If you want just a few more bells and whistles for your ringtones but are still not willing to pay for them then consider the option of transforming your existing MP3’s into a WAV file. It’s quite easy once you figure out how to use WavePad which is very user friendly but the downside is that you’ll use up precious internal memory on your Treo.
Finally if you want the top of the pops and must have MP3 ringtones then I can categorically recommend that you purchase Ringo Pro (or Ringo Mobile for Treo 700w) which can play all files directly from the SD card saving you memory on your Treo. In fact I enjoyed using Ringo Pro so much that I added it to my favourite Top 100 Software and also extended the 20% Off coupon with the code TOP100 in the Treonauts Software Store until 26 March.
UPDATE1: Simple-Stupid Ringtones
I never thought about this nor had I previously tried the built-in ‘New’ functionality within the ‘Manage Sound’ section on my Treo but I have to admit that you can come up with some pretty fun ringtones this way.
Thanks to s.elements for pointing me to this by writing that to record his ringtones he simply places his Treo next to a speaker playing the song that he likes and voilà! he can save it and use it in a second even while on the go – albeit the audio quality isn’t necessarily great. As he says it’s simple-stupid.
Just for fun this is a short personal voice ringtone that I created called PickUpThePhone! [RightClick and then Save As…] which you can download, email to your Treo and listen to within the Manage Sounds panel or it should play with Quicktime in your browser…
UPDATE2: .AMR Support
To my surprise, by doing the above and then emailing the file to myself I discovered that the audio file had a .amr extension which I hadn’t come across before. Curious, I launched WavePad again to see if it could save MP3’s in the .amr format and it did. Saving a 6MB MP3 to the highest encoding bitrate of 12.2kbps that .amr supports resulted in a tiny 386kb file… Great for size but the quality is only so so compared to WAV or MP3.
Treonauts always look for the best options…