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Ringtones

A ringtone or ring tone is the sound made by a telephone to indicate an incoming call. The term, however, is most often used to refer to the customizable sounds available on mobile phones.

A phone only rings when a special "ringing signal" is sent to it. For landline telephones, the ringing signal is a 90-volt, 20-hertz, AC wave generated by the switch to which the telephone is connected. For mobile phones, the ringing signal is a specific radio-frequency signal.

A telephone ring is the sound generated when an incoming telephone call is received. The term originated from the fact that telephones notified the user to an incoming call by repeatedly striking a bell or bells, producing a ringing sound. This "Magneto" bell system is still in widespread use. The ringing signal sent to a customer's telephone utilized AC at 90 volts and 20 hertz in North America. While the sound produced is still called a "ring," more recently manufactured telephones electronically produce a warbling or chirping sound. The signal is sent for every ring and allows phone operators to provide several services with different kinds of rings (for example, rings with a shorter interval between them might be used to signal a call from a given number). When a phone rings — either landline or mobile/cell phone — it may carry Caller ID information and present it on a screen.

History of Ringtones

The first commercial mobile ring tones were created and delivered in Finland in 1998 when a Finnish mobile operator Radiolinja (today Elisa) started their downloadable mobile ring tone service called Harmonium. Invented by Vesa-Matti Paananen. the Harmonium contained both tools for individuals to create monophonic ring tones and a mechanism to deliver them over-the-air (OTA) via SMS to a mobile handset. The service concept spread quickly in Europe and Asia and developed into a multi-billion dollar industry. A ring tone service was one of the very first successful m-commerce services, with social media features like composing, sharing, and rating ring tones. The Harmonium also quickly created a market for high-quality professional ring tones and commercial ring tone libraries.

The rise of video games has also contributed to the popularity of ring tones. On August 5, 2006, the BBC described "free ring tones" as a dangerous search term, because of the risk of malware and other malicious websites.

By 2005, ring tones generated more than $2 billion in annual worldwide revenues. Real tones, which are often excerpts from pop songs, have become popular as ring tones.

Ringing signal

A ringing signal is an electric telephony signal that causes a telephone to alert the user to an incoming call. On a POTS telephone system, this is created by sending an alternating current signal of about 100 volts into the line. Today this signal may be transmitted digitally for much of the journey, provided as an alternating current only because a majority of landlines are not digital end-to-end. In old phones, this voltage was used to trigger a high-impedance electromagnet to ring a bell on the phone.

Fixed phones of the late 20th century and later detect this AC voltage and trigger a warbling tone electronically. Mobile phones are fully digital, hence are signalled to ring as part of the protocol they use to communicate with the cell base stations.

In fixed POTS phones, ringing is said to be "tripped" when the impedance of the line reduces to about 600 ohms when the telephone handset is lifted off the switch-hook. This signals that the telephone call has been answered, and the telephone exchange immediately removes the ringing signal from the line and connects the call. This is the source of the name of the problem called "ring-trip" or "pre-trip", which occurs when the ringing signal on the line encounters excessively low resistance between the conductors, which trips the ring before the subscriber's actual telephone has a chance to ring (for more than a very short time); this is common with wet weather and improperly installed lines.

Early research showed that people would wait until the phone stopped ringing before picking it up. Breaks were introduced into the signal to avoid this problem, resulting in the common ring-pause-ring cadence pattern used today. In early party line systems this pattern was a Morse code letter indicating who should pick up the phone, but today, with individual lines, the only surviving patterns are a single ring and double-ring, originally Morse code letters T and M respectively.

The ringing pattern is known as ring cadence. This only applies to POTS fixed phones, where the high voltage ring signal is switched on and off to create the ringing pattern. In North America, the standard ring cadence is "2-4", or two seconds of ringing followed by four seconds of silence. In Australia and the UK, the standard ring cadence is 400 ms on, 200 ms off, 400 ms on, 2000 ms off. These patterns may vary from region to region, and other patterns are used in different countries around the world.

A service akin to party line ringing is making a comeback in some small office and home office situations allowing facsimile machines and telephones to share the same line but have different telephone numbers; this CLASS feature is usually called distinctive ringing generically, though carriers assign it trademarked names such as "Smart Ring", "Duet", "Multiple Number" and "Ringmaster." This feature is also used for a second phone number assigned to the same physical line for roommates or teenagers, in which case it is sometimes marketed under the name teen line. Caller ID signals are sent during the silent interval between the first and second bursts of the ringing signals.

The interrupted ring signal was designed to attract attention and studies showed that an intermittent two tone ring was the easiest to hear. This had nothing to do with the coded ringing that was used on party line.

Features

Older telephones simply used a pair of bells for the ringer. Modern ring tones have become extremely diverse, leading to phone personalization and customization.

Newer mobile phones allow users to associate different ring tones with individual family members and friends. Taking advantage of these features, a new ring tone maker trend has emerged. For example, websites like Mobilephoria, Phone Sherpa, and Dopetone let users make ring tones from the music they already own (MP3, CD etc.) and upload directly to their mobile phone with no limit on the number of songs uploaded. In addition to the cost benefits, a key feature is the music editor that lets the user easily pick the part of the song they wish to set as a ringtone. Such services automatically detect the phone settings to ensure the best file type and format. There are, however, providers who have already edited and trimmed the song for you.

Some providers allow users to create their own music tones, either with a "melody composer" or a sample/loop arranger (such as the MusicDJ in many Sony Ericsson phones). However, these use native formats only available to one particular phone model or brand. Other formats, such as MIDI or MP3, are often supported; they must be downloaded to the phone before they can be used as a normal ring tone. Commercial ring tones take advantage of this functionality, which has led to the success of the mobile music industry. Southern rapper Chamillionaire was the first to have a ring tone go 3x platinum for the hit single "Ridin." He now has his own category on certain phones.

The latest innovation is the sing tone, a type of karaoke ring tone where a user’s voice recording is adjusted to be both in time and in tune then mixed with a backing track to make a user-created ring tone.

An alternative to a ring tone for mobile phones is a vibrating alert. It may be useful:

Types of ringtones

Monophonic
A monophonic ringtone is a ringtone that can play only one type of musical tone at a time.
Polyphonic
A polyphonic ringtone is a ringtone that can play several types of tones at a time (up to 72 in recent phones). The first polyphonic ringtones used sequenced recording methods such as MIDI. Such recordings specify what instrument should play a note at a given time, but the actual instrument sound is dependent upon the playback device.
Truetone
A truetone (also known as "realtone", "mastertone", or "superphonic ringtone") is a ringtone which has been encoded with a high fidelity format such MP3, AAC, or WMA format, and represents the latest evolution of the ringtone. Truetones, which are often excerpts from songs, have become popular as ringtones.

Ringtone formats

Ringtone maker

A ringtone maker allows a user to take a song from their music collection, pick the part that they like and send the file to their mobile phone. Files can be sent to the mobile phone by direct connection (e.g., USB cable), Bluetooth, text messaging, or e-mail, however, most ringtone makers have adopted a "one size fits all" strategy of downloading through the Internet; while appealing to the lowest common denominator, this method usually results in charges to the user for Internet time used on their mobile phones.

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