Create your own iPhone ring tones

I’ve had my iPhone for a week (loving it!) and of course I want to make custom ring tones for some of my contacts. I figured out how it worked from posts like create-free-iphone-ringtones-using-itunes-in-windows but I developed my own workflow:

1. Find a source file

  • I typically start from an existing MP3 file. It might be a CD I have ripped to MP3, or a soundtrack from DVDs or other sound bites. I also have a collection of accapella samples that are a nice source.

2. Create the 15 – 30 sec tone in MP3 format

  • You don’t need a 5 min ringtone, just 15 to 30 seconds will be enough
  • I use Audacity (with the LAME MP3 encoder add-on) to load the full source MP3 file, trim out the piece I want and then add a fade-in and fade-out.

Make iPhone ringtone with Audacity

3. Export to MP3

  • I then export the file to an MP3 file of 128kbps. You don’t need better quality than that anyway. If you want, you can convert the file to mono here, or it can happen in the next step
  • Result: ringtone.mp3

4. Convert with ffmpeg to MPEG4 ringtone

  • I prefer using the command-line ffmpeg for transcoding of audio and video.
  • The simple way of doing it: ffmpeg -i ringtone.mp3 -y ringtone.m4a (.m4a stands for MPEG4 audio, ffmpeg will see this extension and use default settings for the conversion.) Afterwards you then have to change the extension to .m4r (MPEG4 ringtone).
  • The detailed one-step-only way to do this: ffmpeg.exe -i ringtone.mp3 -ac 1 -ab 128000 -f mp4 -acodec libfaac -y ringtone.m4r

5. Open file with iTunes

  • Just double-click the file, that should do it.

The lazy way:

let’s make a batch file that will automatically convert the first 30 seconds of any MP3 file into an iPhone ringtone:
SET INPUT=%1
SET NAME=%INPUT:.mp3=%
SET OUTPUT=%NAME%.m4r
echo CONVERT %INPUT% to %OUTPUT% ...
ffmpeg.exe -i %INPUT% -t 30 -ac 1 -ab 128000 -f mp4 -acodec libfaac -genre Ringtone -y %OUTPUT%

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3 Responses to Create your own iPhone ring tones

  1. but most of all: i’m glad you folded & are now an iPhone-owner.

  2. Thanks! This really helps! For anyone interested, you can reduce the number of steps by downloading the beta version of audacity, which can allow you to directly export into .m4a. This would make it as easy as choosing a file, cutting, export, and rename!

  3. I get lost at 4. with ffmpeg.. I can only gather that one has to have ffmpeg on their pc.. hmm and using run -> cmd – It looks like a great guide except I can’t make the leap to part 4. in your guide.