Thers are many different types of ringtones available on the market today. Here is a list of the most common ringtone formats and standards followed by a simple and short explanation.
The AAC and AAC+ audio formats are used in many cell phones. AAC (Advanced audio coding) is the successor to MP3 for audio coding at medium to high bit rates and in terms of sound quality, AAC beats the MP3 format. AAC File Format
MIDI, Musical Instrument Digital Interface enables the creation of polyphonic musical compositions with differnet sounds. Polyphonic means that multiple tones can be played at the same time using instrument sounds such as drums, electronic guitar, piano, etc. More about MIDI ringtones
Scalable Polyphony MIDI (SP-MIDI) specification was co-authored by Nokia and Beatnik Inc. SP-MIDI is the MIDI standard for polyphonic ringtones. Most new cell phones support SP-MIDI for ringtones and game sound. More about SP-MIDI ringtones
With XMF (eXtensible Music Format), MIDI music can be combined with digitally recorded music providing a richer audio experience. Instead of delivering generic polyphonic ringtones constrained by the 128 instrument bank specified by general MIDI, XMF supports playback of DLS instruments for an infinite number of downloadable sound possibilities.
This means that voiceless pop music ringtones can include voice samples of the pop artist. Mobile phone game soundtrack audio can include original muisic and real sound effects.
Beatnik’s RMF technology and XMF allows BAE-enabled devices to play MIDI music and sequence digital audio samples such as vocal tracks. This powerful combination delivers very small sized audio files with high-fidelity audio, allowing customisable recorded audio for polyphonic ringtones, interactive game audio and user alert tones. Nokia's 7650 and 3650 and the Sony Ericsson P800 plays RMF ringtones.
SMAF is a polyphonic ringtone format. Most Siemens polyphonic handsets and some Samsung and Sharp phones can accept the SMAF ringtone format. It´s designed for mobile devices and according to some tends to give a better result than simple midi and takes less space on the phone.
The Downloadable Sounds (DLS) format, MIDI files can be combined with standardized samples of musical instruments and sound effects.
Polyphonic ringtones are just like regular ringtones, but they sound more like music. Polyphonic ringtones can play several notes and sounds simultaneously. More about polyphonic ringtones
Nokia true tones
The Nokia 3300 is the first mobile phone supporting true tones, which provide ringtones with real music, allowing users to have songs, nature sounds and special effects to alert them of an incoming call. Nokia True tones are based on the Adaptive Multi-Rate Wideband (AMR-WB) technology. More about Nokia true tones
Amr sound clips
AMR (Adaptive Multi-rate Codec) file format. AMR files can be recorded using the phones built-in Recorder application. This way you can record yourself saying "Mums's calling" and assing the ringtone to "mum" (Nokia 7650 allows assigning separate ringtone to each single contact as well as for each contacts group).
On some new phones like the Nokia 3650, 7650, 9210 and 9290 you can listen to any WAV file. WAV files can be downloaded or copied from PC and can contain anything - voice, music etc. The WAV ringtone format
The Beatniks audio technology can be integrated with MPEG codecs to play back MP3 files. More about MP3 ringtones
i Melody ringtones
i melody ringtones are just like ordinary monophonic ringtones, but they are for EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service) compatible phones. The Enhanced Messaging Service (EMS) is the ability to send ringtones, operator logos, pictures, sounds, animations, modified text and standard text as an integrated message to an EMS compliant handset.
RTTTL ringtones (ringtones text transfer language) is a mobile ringtone format for coding the notes of a ringtone. More about RTTTL ringtones
Nokia composer ringtones
The Nokia 3210 was the first Nokia phone to use the composer ringtones. Composer ringtones are also used by later Nokia models, such as the Nokia 2100, 3310, 3330, 3390 and 8250. These Nokia phones have a built in ringtone composer and you can compose new ringtones directly on their keyboards. Composing ringtones this way is free, but requires some skill.
Key press format
Key press ringtones can be directly entered into your phone. It´s much easier to compose ringtones with the key press format compared to the above mentioned composer format. You do not need to understand the special symbols that appear on the composer screen as a result. Use the ringtone composer option to enter the key presses into the handset.
Nokia originally developed SMS to send short text messages between mobile phones. Phones also use this technic to receive and send non-text information like graphics and ringtones. An sms ringtone can be sent to the mobile phone via sms. The sms ringtone is a binary format ringtone, which is a way of coding a ringtone according to the SMS format.
Beatnik licenses audio software solutions for mobile devices that enable rich multimedia content delivery for games and device interaction. It contains a wavetable, (a set of sampled instruments), just like a sound card for PC´s.
BAE (Beatnik Audio Engine) ringtones enables polyphonic ringtones, game sound and multimedia messaging for Symbian OS. Beatniks eXtensible Music Format (XMF) compatible audio capabilities for mobile phones significantly improve the quality of the ringtone sound. Beatnik's technology supports sound formats such as XMF, MP3, WAV, AIFF and MIDI. The Nokia 7650 can play BAE ringtones. The BAE technology is also used by other mobile phone manufacturers such as Motorola, Siemens and Sony Ericsson.
Symbian is a software licensing company, owned by wireless industry leaders. Symbian is the supplier of the open, standard operating system - Symbian OS - for mobile phones. The world's first open Symbian OS phone became available in the first half of 2001 (Nokia 9210 Communicator).
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