ringtones that don't annoy
February 20, 2006 8:49 PM   Subscribe

I'd like a ringtone that wouldn't make you throttle me if you heard it in a public space.

After four years with my trusty V60, I've entered the modern phone age with the RAZR V3c (with Telus, not Verizon.) I've also figured out how to get MP3 ringtones onto the phone, so the techy side is all ironed out.
I am, however, looking for a ringtone or chunk of a song that isn't annoying while remaining distinctive, and isn't too bassy (because the speaker in the phone can't hack it). Ideally, it'd be about 20-30 seconds in length and without lyrics.
posted by heeeraldo to Technology (68 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Vibrate works wonders. But if you must... why not go for something like Philip Glass?
posted by nathan_teske at 8:51 PM on February 20, 2006


Get one that sounds like a phone ringing.
posted by evariste at 8:52 PM on February 20, 2006


nathan_teske beat me to it.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:57 PM on February 20, 2006


The vibrate, not the Glass.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 8:58 PM on February 20, 2006


Second the phone ringing. There are plenty of variations you can make on this theme that would allow you to have a distinctive, yet phone like, ring.
posted by [this is good] at 9:01 PM on February 20, 2006


4′33″ too long? Maybe you could edit it.
posted by tellurian at 9:03 PM on February 20, 2006


You might like one that sounds like the ring of an old-fashioned phone (this kind). That kind of br-r-ring! used to be my ringtone. Then I changed it to the chorus of "Bananaphone."
posted by booksandlibretti at 9:08 PM on February 20, 2006


I have a crappy nokia and it has two rings I like, that I get compliments on having chosen. Once sounds like sticks hitting against each other, sort of a tick-tick-tick-ticka-ticka-ticka. It gets louder, with more ticks, the longer the phone rings. The other I can't describe but it's just sort of a soft noise.

I think volume is really a key here. Most people have their rings waaaay too loud. In most situations your phone will be on your person or near you. If you aren't close enough to hear a moderate ring, you're going to be running to get it anyway.

Also, I HATE ringtones that sound like old-timey real phones. Ugh.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:18 PM on February 20, 2006


I vote for the vibrate as well.

If you MUST have sound - please avoid irritating high pitched stuff.

I can tell you this much -- I can't stand that one really common ringtone - seems to be a Nokia thing... I can't really describe it in words, but maaaan does it bug me.
posted by twiggy at 9:18 PM on February 20, 2006


My "soft" ringtone is the environmental music from Tenebrae in Ultima 8. It's softer, minor key, and makes very good use of midi instrumentation. The file is U8-05FIX.mid in the zip pack from this U8 downloads page.

(For the sake of comparison, my "loud" ringtone is the most annoying sound I could think of, the shrieking beeper tone from Grand Theft Auto 3.)
posted by Danelope at 9:22 PM on February 20, 2006


Yet another vote for a phone ringing. I use that on mine, when it isn't set to vibrate.

Increasing volume over time is next to godliness.
posted by tkolar at 9:23 PM on February 20, 2006


I use the ringtone from 24 on my Treo. The "old phone" variants have become so common that they've started to hurt my teeth.
posted by mikel at 9:27 PM on February 20, 2006


The best thing you can do is NOT choose a piece of trendy music. If I hear just one more person's phone playing 'My Humps" there WILL be blood.

Also, see if your phone has a setting where the ring gets louder as it goes on. Mine does and I can usually get to it and either answer it or silence it before it's rung more than once or twice, when it's still fairly quiet. I also use a neutral 'ring-ring' tone that isn't an earworm.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 9:29 PM on February 20, 2006


All "ringtones" per se are annoying. Forget anything that came with the phone and anything you can download explicitly as a
"ringtone." They're all friggin'.... GAAHHH!

Find a nice saxophone or horn riff from a smooth old jazz record and record it as an MP3 clip, then make that your ringtone.

I have an incredibly un-annoying, I daresay sweet-as-hell ringtone, which I will play at a meetup if anyone ever asks.
posted by scarabic at 9:32 PM on February 20, 2006


Hmm...I'm apparently the pickiest person here so far, as evidenced by my continued hatred of the tinny sound of a recorded phone ring used as a cell phone ring. You could do better, my friend.

I used MP3 Direct Cut to pick out the first few bits of a song, you know, the catchy part, the intro before any drums or singing starts. I chose the beginning of the Eel's "Hey Man, Now You're Really Living", which has a pleasant do-do-DO-do-doo-doooo that tapers off into the main song. It's also a lower pitched bit, sort of melodic, but friendly.

I don't think anyone besides the people I tell know that it's not an actual cell phone ring, but it's still a totally different caliber than the rings that came included. So maybe try listening to a bunch of your favorite songs, and see if any of the beginnings really grab you. I know that's what I did as soon as I learned I was getting a phone with the capability.
posted by redsparkler at 9:33 PM on February 20, 2006


My new phone includes a version of one the Gymnopédies by Satie. It's been getting compliments so far. Starts off quiet and chill.

twiggy: I can't stand that one really common ringtone - seems to be a Nokia thing

You're probably talking about Nokia Tune.

posted by epugachev at 9:33 PM on February 20, 2006


Oh, and with the MP3 Direct Cut, you can fade out the sound, too, just in case there's a voice that cuts in a moment too soon. That was pretty helpful.
posted by redsparkler at 9:35 PM on February 20, 2006


If you don't mind paying, get a recording of one of a number of original vintage British telephones here.
posted by bonaldi at 9:38 PM on February 20, 2006


Your magical ringtone that won't annoy people? It doesn't exist. Every one of you who thinks your ringtone is cool, that it's the exception that all your friends and coworkers think is awesome? You're wrong. It sucks. Turn it off.

You have three options:

1.) Silent. ("Vibrate" counts.)
2.) Regular ring. Like a telephone. Not clever.
3.) Be an annoying dick.

There is no (4).
posted by cribcage at 9:44 PM on February 20, 2006


A friend of mine downloaded birds chirping. It's so unobtrusive that I never even hear his phone ringing -- I just think the birds around us have started twittering more excitedly.

Granted, we spend a lot of time outside, so it may be more annoying indoors.
posted by occhiblu at 9:49 PM on February 20, 2006


Flatulence. It will always get the laughs.

But seriously, what about quiet crickets chirping?
posted by mecran01 at 9:54 PM on February 20, 2006


As a non-cell-phone-user, let me say that any cell phone ring — custom ring tone or default sound — is annoying, especially if it's in a movie theater, or a public lecture, or a restaurant, or on the bus, or in the grocery store. Use vibrate. And take your calls outside.
posted by jdroth at 9:54 PM on February 20, 2006


I have a ringtone that sounds like an old phone.

The polite options appear to me to be:

1) A sound that sounds like a phone.
2) No sound.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:54 PM on February 20, 2006


KHAAAN!!!
posted by dirigibleman at 10:09 PM on February 20, 2006


For the love of God, not the Nokia tune (and thank you to the person who put a name to my most-hated ringtone).

Some classical music would be nice. The real thing, not the ringtone-d version, but the MP3.
posted by anjamu at 10:19 PM on February 20, 2006


You have three options:

1.) Silent. ("Vibrate" counts.)
2.) Regular ring. Like a telephone. Not clever.
3.) Be an annoying dick.


I think there's a fourth, though I haven't ever heard it:

A simple, pure tone. A mild, not-too-high-pitched, plain-old BEEP. Sort of like the POST beeps some PCs give.

That, or Mr. T shouting "RING! RING! RING, FOOL!"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:21 PM on February 20, 2006


I used Smoke on the Water for a while, having had to program it in through the mediocre midi interface. Now I just tend to use bits that I record through the phone itself. 900 Number by 45 King is always a tasty choice.
posted by klangklangston at 10:25 PM on February 20, 2006


Vibrate only works if you can avoid the phonering spaz/dance.

Anything low-key (and at the lowest workable volume) is fine.
posted by I Love Tacos at 10:45 PM on February 20, 2006


I was in London a few weeks ago and heard one that was a woman's voice saying "ring ring", BUT I loathe cell phones and keep my ring/vibrate turned off--I check the screen every so often if I'm carrying it with me.
posted by brujita at 10:51 PM on February 20, 2006


I always wanted one that was sort of a polite throat-clearing to get your attention, as if a butler were trying to politely interrupt. Perhaps with an "excuse me, you have a phone call" or something. Quietly.

I'm sure the old Star-Trek (Next Generation) communicator "chirp" (it's kind of undescribable) is available. That struck me as fairly unobtrusive as these things go.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:39 PM on February 20, 2006


Anyone have a link to the Nokia tune?
posted by arcticwoman at 11:51 PM on February 20, 2006


Just record yourself politely saying 'ring. ring' and use that.
posted by mullingitover at 11:58 PM on February 20, 2006


Record your significant other saying "heeeraldo, call for you on line one."
posted by five fresh fish at 11:58 PM on February 20, 2006


I like the idea of recording you clearing your throat or a gentle cough. Completely unobtrusive. I personally use the sticks clacking together or whatever that is and that is fine too. And for the love of god, no fake telephones anymore plz.
posted by tev at 12:37 AM on February 21, 2006


My ringtone is Foghorn Leghorn--when my phone rings, it just sounds like someone has joined the conversation (who has an amusingly exaggerated genteel southern accent).

And people think it's funny. Which I'm pretty sure means it isn't annoying to them.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:52 AM on February 21, 2006


(My previous ring was a particular cadence from the last mvt. of Beethoven's 9th--just two chords (V-I), the final cadence of the introduction before the Joy theme is played for the first time by the double basses. That one is pretty sweet.)
posted by LooseFilter at 12:58 AM on February 21, 2006


I don't see the point of having an unobtrusive ringtone; you may as well put your phone on vibrate, because then at least you'll actually catch the call. Having a ringtone you can't hear in public is a pretty stupid move, no? So I don't know if the coughing ringtone is going to work, and I'm pretty sure the communicator chirp will lead to you missing damned near every single call you get.

The only exception is a weird one: I knew someone whose phone simply emitted one beep when it rang. If you didn't know any better you'd think it was a computer beep, or a smoke detector with low batteries. You can hear it, but no one will think "that wanker's phone is going off again."

I think the more sensible option is to just put your phone on vibrate if you don't want to bother anyone. But my personal favourite? The loopy cacophony that opens Beck's "The New Pollution" on repeat. Doo-doot, doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo didliddliddliddl*crash*!

I used my phone as an alarm clock for a while, too. The sound I used for that? The Happy Tree Friends theme song. Use that if you want to annoying the living crap out of everyone within a four-mile radius.
posted by chrominance at 1:00 AM on February 21, 2006


On posting, what ROU_Xenophobe said. Your theory has indeed been put into practice!
posted by chrominance at 1:03 AM on February 21, 2006


I second the point about an "unobtrusive ring tone" being a contradiction in terms: a ring tone needs to be fairly obtrusive to work at all and what reliably attracts your attention will attract the attention of those around you - even "vibrate". If you don't want to be obtrusive turn your phone off. Choose a ring tone which is sufficiently embarassing and obnoxious to help you remember this.

"The Nokia Tune" is actually a classical guitar piece called "Gran Vals" by the (fortuitously dead) 19th century composer Francisco Tárrega. Maybe you could take something else from his back catalogue.
posted by rongorongo at 1:25 AM on February 21, 2006


For a while now, I've wanted to do a two-beep system. All it would be is a single "Beep-boop", with the first beep representing a group, and the second who within the group it is. I'm able to identify intervals well (nine years of clarinet), so I'd get at least 8 people per group.
posted by arrhn at 1:33 AM on February 21, 2006


What cribcage said. No matter what you use, if it's audible, I would want to throttle you. Use vibrate.
posted by grouse at 1:39 AM on February 21, 2006


I use the end of duelling banjos for calls, and some birds chirping for texts. I also keep my phone on silent when on public transport, i'm annoying but i dont want to be that annoying.
posted by kev23f at 2:19 AM on February 21, 2006


Anything cute or whimsical sucks balls. Use something lowkey and simple.
posted by signal at 2:58 AM on February 21, 2006


"I knew someone whose phone simply emitted one beep when it rang."

I've a friend who manages that - he never seems to miss the beep. Even if my phone could do that, I'd miss it all the time.

The correct option is Vibrate then Ring, with Ring being some unassuming beeps. And there is no bell in your cellular phone, so it ought not to ring like one. Definitely no ringtones.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:47 AM on February 21, 2006


I was in a restaurant last night and heard somebody's phone start ringing and it was beeping out SOS in morse code at a reasonable volume. I thought that was pretty clever and not annoying at all. Probably especially good if your cell seconds as a business line.
posted by saraswati at 3:59 AM on February 21, 2006


Create your own at Wolfram, and get them on your phone. My apologies if you spend half the day there!
posted by kimota at 4:02 AM on February 21, 2006 [1 favorite]


Hokey Pokey. I wouldn't want to throttle you. I'd be busy dancing.
posted by ersatzkat at 5:14 AM on February 21, 2006


Well, vibrate can be annoying to other people too: I want to know your phone is ringing before you suddenly just pull it out. Also, it only works if you have pockets (ie, aren't wearing most skirts.)

Anyway, to me the most annoying ringtones are songs. Which is to say, anything will annoy someone.
posted by dame at 5:29 AM on February 21, 2006


I was in a restaurant last night and heard somebody's phone start ringing and it was beeping out SOS in morse code at a reasonable volume.

It was probably SMS (dit-dit-dit DA-DA dit-dit-dit).

I use a very pure, low volume recording of a Western Electric 500 for my ring. And a good recording of a bellhop's bell for voice mail and text messages.

And yes, always vibrate first, then ring. The sound is only for the times when it's not in my pocket.
posted by toxic at 5:59 AM on February 21, 2006


I second bananaphone.
posted by borkingchikapa at 6:04 AM on February 21, 2006


Last night I set up my new phone (Motorola e815) with the first 15 seconds of Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. I used an mp3 file I already had but you can go to walmart.com and download 30 second samples of songs in asf format to speed things up/try it out.
posted by hogweed at 6:46 AM on February 21, 2006


RikiTikiTavi's suggestion is good - kind of like having your butler say, "Excuse me sir, the telephone."

I'd also like a Star Trek tone, but not TNG. The original series communicator, kind of a "boop boop" noise. I'm a geek, and I'm old.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 6:50 AM on February 21, 2006


dame - Why is that annoying? I'd prefer if someone just excused himself to use his phone - whether to make a call, or receive.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:10 AM on February 21, 2006


My two previous Nokia cell phones had the RING ONCE option. I never missed a call, and I knew - if the phone rang only once - that it was MY phone ringing.

Now I have a Palm Treo600, and the selection of ringtones is terrible. I dislike every one of them, and the Ring Once option is not available. So I have the phone on vibrate (it still makes a hmmmmf kind of sound when it does) and keep the phone deep in my purse.

And, by the way, 4'33" is by John Cage, not by Philip Glass
posted by seawallrunner at 7:52 AM on February 21, 2006


I’ll second mikel’s use of the 24 ring tone. Also on a Treo, but the Treo’s vibrate is pretty good so I tend to only use it in the car. With the rather affordable nature of pockets on men’s pants these days I find it hard to think of a public place where a ring is necessary.
posted by paxton at 8:06 AM on February 21, 2006


I prefer phones that sound like, well phones. Not like someone driving by with the stereo too loud. Phone alert tones are easy to ignore after the first repitition. Musical motifs are annoying, especially when I know the tune and and you get the same three or four bars repeated over, and over, and over again. Bad midi recreations of classical music are the worst.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:13 AM on February 21, 2006


I've got a single bird chirp. It actually is great because I know what it sounds like, but for about 90% of people it blends into the environment and they never take notice (sans for a conference room maybe).
posted by omidius at 8:29 AM on February 21, 2006


Your magical ringtone that won't annoy people? It doesn't exist. Every one of you who thinks your ringtone is cool, that it's the exception that all your friends and coworkers think is awesome? You're wrong. It sucks. Turn it off.

Yes. Yes. Ringtones are loved by 10% of the population and despised by the rest of us. The only way to not bother others is to keep the volume low and the sound something akin to an actual telephone's ring, not the 1812 Overture at 140 dB coming out of a .5" speaker.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:42 AM on February 21, 2006


I use either a WAV file of an old Western Electric desk set (a "proper" telephone) ringing, or a sample of the Mars "Yip Yip" aliens from Sesame Street's encounter with a telephone. "BRRINGGGG!".
posted by mrbill at 9:38 AM on February 21, 2006


Perhaps with an "excuse me, you have a phone call" or something. Quietly. - RikiTikiTavi

My husband's phone used to tell him "You have an incoming call." Notice I said used to. If you only heard it once, it was cute. But over time that voice got really annoying. Kinda like the "You've got mail!" voice.
posted by raedyn at 10:10 AM on February 21, 2006


Ideally I'd have a clip from Katamari Damacy. Currently, I have the old school Mario Brothers theme. With Foghorn Leghorn and the Yip Yip aliens available, that may change soon.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:13 AM on February 21, 2006


The "One-Beep" ringer was the best I've ever had. Completely unobtrusive and I never missed a call.

Too bad my current phone doesn't have that.
posted by Penks at 10:45 AM on February 21, 2006


some responses before I tell you all what I'll do:

nathan_teske: vibrate doesn't always carry through the case I'm using, and sometimes, things get between my phone and the part of my pocket right against my leg. I'll fix this with a holster-style case, eventually.

there's an old phone ringer included. I've used it a couple of times, and it doesn't click that my phone is ringing, and it sounds sort of dumb, so it's out.

jdroth: I'd like to think of myself as a considerate cell-phone user - I hate holding conversations on the bus because I can't take it outside.

fff: I am (sadly) single. Would you mind? ;)

arrhn: while I can think of how to do it on my phone (MIDI + a decent amount of internal memory + individualized ringers + Caller ID), I don't think I could pull off recognizing the intervals.

Dipso: hit 'em once for me, too.

dame: also annoying on crowded public transit (where I spend three hours of my day) when the person whose pocket is pressed up against your leg has their phone go off. not so much annoying as downright weird, but you get the idea.

Optimus: that's why I asked the question.

armed with far more response than expected, I'm going to go with a gradually increasing CTU ring that will vibrate first. It also has novelty value because a goodly portion of my friends will recognize it because we all watch 24 (often together) and retains the virtue of sounding like a phone.
Maybe I'll do up some Morse ones for individuals, so I know who's calling.
posted by heeeraldo at 11:09 AM on February 21, 2006


What I really want, though? Custom vibrate patterns. My phone's on vibrate 99% of the time, and I'd really like to distinguish callers by the vibration pattern.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:27 AM on February 21, 2006


ObscureReferenceMan: Because it's unnerving for someone to, out of nowhere, be like, "I have to take this." I'd rather hear the phone myself, to get a little warning that the callee may say, "I have to take this." Does that make sense? It's not particularly logical, but then who is only annoyed by logical things?
posted by dame at 12:55 PM on February 21, 2006


What I really want, though? Custom vibrate patterns. My phone's on vibrate 99% of the time, and I'd really like to distinguish callers by the vibration pattern.

I have a Motorola SLVR V8, and it has 5 different vibrate patterns.

I used to have a Sanyo something or another that allowed custom programmed rings that could do custom vibrations along with, or instead of, notes.
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:00 PM on February 23, 2006


The best ringtone I ever heard -- it made me smile instead of cringe -- sounded like a real train whistle blowing in the distance. It was an extremely sweet sound.
posted by Julia Gill at 1:13 PM on February 25, 2006


There's also a delightful page of loops at icompositions.
posted by redbeard at 10:45 AM on January 7, 2007


« Older The Coffee and Tea Wreck   |   can i eat my dough? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.