The buzz on ringtones

Adria Barbour

Animal tones, popular songs replace “ring, ring”

Credit: Andrew popik

Cellphones ringtones are moving beyond the traditional “ring! ring!” to become more creative: The chicken dance and “Baby Got Back” are just two choices cellphone users can pick.

“It used to be when a phone went off everybody looked at their phone,” said Mark Marxen of the Wireless Store in Kent, but now ringtones have brought a sense of individuality to the phone industry’s customer.

Ringtones come in three different forms: monophonic, polyphonic and true tones, which are MP3 quality.

“Monophonic is the standard tone,” Marxen said. “Like the first phones, it sounds very basic.”

Polyphonic ringtones are more complex, and sound like real instruments rather than simple tones, Marxen said. True tones, which are clips of the actual song, sound the best and have the quality of compact discs.

Most cell phone services like TMobile and Cingular Wireless have Web sites of their own where customers can download their rings, Marxen said. Usually these providers give a customer a specific credit to start out with and charge anywhere from $1.99 to $4.99 to download ringtones.

“I had a $5 credit for the ringtones on my phone bill so I figured I’d use it,” said Mike Moore, freshman international relations major. The offer expires after 90 days.

Since most wireless providers give customers access to downloaded songs from their cell phones as well as provide Web sites that can be accessed via the Internet, some users don’t know there are other places to buy ringtones.

“There are a number of free ringtone Web sites,” Marxen said, “but to get quality ringtones you’d have to pay to download. Plus you have to make sure your phone is capable of handling MP3 quality ringtones.”

Senior Spanish major Mari Jimenez uses Sprint but obtains her ringtone downloads from a free site called

“I don’t like paying for downloads,” Jimenez said.

Sophomore biology major Cameron Lester suggested and

Other free sites include,, and

Web sites that are not free but provide quality ringtones include, and The first site allows customers to download ringtones for 10 cents each, and the second gives unlimited access for $1.99 each month. The last requires a onetime activation fee.

Contact reporter Adria Barbour at [email protected]