Ringtones, once thought to be the salvation of a beleaguered record industry, are no longer huge business, in part because people can make their own ringtones now.
Released on Monday for iOS, Mashtone’s dual-cassette interface remixes any song on your iPhone into a unique ringtone in any of four ways. And because the app incorporates machine intelligence (powered by The Echo Nest, publisher of Evolver.fm), all the beats line up in time, without requiring you to fuss around with BPMs, cue points, and so on.
Mashtone ($2) sports four modes for warping prime candidates from your music collection into one-of-a-kind ringtones sure to turn heads, or, at the very least, keep you amused:
Cowbell: Much like the website MoreCowbell.dj, this setting adds a cowbell along with the beat.
Extra Beat: This one replicates certain beats in the song to create a new version.
Big Fill: This one adds a massive “drum fill,” which is an elaborate attempt by a drummer to sieze the attention of the listener that is often found in ’80s music.
Reverse Beat: Possibly the most advanced of the processes you can apply to make your own mashtone, this setting remakes the song of your choice by reversing some of the beats. The song’s still recognizable, but sounds totally different.
Other than that, the whole process is basically just a matter of selecting which part of the processed song sounds best as a ringtone (screenshots below).
All in all, it takes about a minute to make a “mashtone,” although really, it depends. Some songs must be uploaded to the server for processing, while those that the system already recognizes can be processed more easily.
Here’s how it works (note: we recommend leaving at least a few hundred megabytes of free space on your iPhone, so that this app has enough room to make and store your new ringtones):
Choose a song from your library and pick a setting by tapping the round control on the lower left:
The Mashtone app copies the song into its memory then downloads analysis data for that song from the interwebs:
Mashtone remixes the chosen song in the manner requested, before our very eyes:
Presto: We have created our own ringtone, which nobody else has. We can create as many of these as we want, and they all get stored on the iPhone. When we sync the phone to our computer, we need to pull the ringtones onto the computer, put them into iTunes, and then transfer them onto the iPhone as “official” ringtones (this part’s a bit tricky due to how Apple has set up ringtones, but it’s easy once you get the hang of it).
Connect your iPhone to your computer, and let it sync. Then, click on your iPhone in iTunes:
Now click the Apps tab in iTunes:
You’ll see a large and small version of each file. The ones with the smaller file sizes are your ringtones. To send them to your computer, select them, then click the “Save to…” button, and decide where you want to store your Mashtones on your computer’s hard drive. (To free up room on your iPhone, you can also delete the full songs here if you’re done making mashtones out of them.)
Now, you just need to reimport those iPhone ringtones (.M4R files) into iTunes. To do this, simply drag them onto your Library in iTunes (you can also rename them, if you want):
Almost there. Go to the Ringtones tab in iTunes, check the Sync Ringtones box, and the option for Selected Ringtones (you can also choose All Ringtones). Then check the boxes of the mashtones you want stored on your iPhone as ringtones, and click the Apply button at the lower right of the screen:
Now the mashtones are on your iPhone again — this time as files that your iPhone will understand as ringtones. To choose your new mashtone as your default ringtone for everything, tap your iPhone’s Settings menu, then tap the Sounds option, then tap Ringtone. Select your desired mashtone from the list to preview it, and you’re done! (You can also assign these ringtones to specific contacts.)
Bliss: Replacing my homemade Fletch ringtone is a beat-reversed mashtone of The Fall’s “Bill Is Dead.”