Instructions for creating MMF ring-tones from MP3s
for the Motorola MS500 (Korean RAZR) handphone

While spending some time in South Korea we found that our supposedly “works everywhere” quad-band Motorola RAZR would not work here due to Korea's non-standard cellular network technology implementation, which dispenses with silly things like SIM cards for a start. So we picked up a Korean variety of Motorola RAZR, but when it came time do download a few of our favorite custom MP3 ring-tones I quickly discovered that this phone's differences go far beyond just the radio circuitry.

The obvious physical differences begin with the battery cover which features three exposed electrical contacts for the included charging dock. The Korean RAZR also dispenses with the unusual and widely hated mini-USB connector in favor of a standard 2.5mm headset jack on the right side and a large proprietary connector on the left side for a USB cable included with the phone. The USB cable supplied by Motorola includes a tiny on-off switch on a bulky plastic gadget in the middle of the cable. The reason for this switch I cannot possibly fathom, except to frustrate people like me who can't figure out why the phone isn't being recognized by the computer right away. This phone also seems to lack Bluetooth.

The software on the phone is of course completely different from what we see in the USA, and even the very latest, feature-packed version of Motorola’s Mobile Phone Tools won’t recognize the Korean handset or connect to it, even as a generic. The phone's manual suggests downloading Motorola PC Sync, which is free just for registering on their web site. PC Sync offers basic synchronization and file transfer functionality but gives you no clues as to what format the multimedia files must be, offers no conversion tools, and Motorola is not exactly forthcoming with answers. Even an hour of searching the Internet yielded few leads. All I knew is that PC Sync didn’t recognize MP3 files.

Sysinternals’ FileMon software came to the rescue, helping me discover that PC Sync was looking for ring-tones matching the following file masks: *.MMF, *.XMF

With that crucial bit of information it was easy to figure out that PC Sync was looking for ring-tones formatted as Yamaha SMAF (.MMF) and the newer Mobile XMF (eXtensible Music Format).

The ring-tone instructions here will focus on creating SMAF files in consideration of the easy availability of free tools to create them, and that format’s relative freedom from annoying, futile DRM burdens. These instructions should work well for creating MMF ring-tones for other phones as well, both from Motorola and others, though how you download them to non-Motorola phones will be up to you.

Quick Overview:

Yamaha's free tools for creating MMF files require WAV files as input, so to create an MMF format ring-tone you need to first convert it to a standard PCM WAV file using the software of your choice, then convert that WAV file into an MMF file and download the MMF file to your handset.

For converting your sound into a WAV file I prefer WinAMP because the basic version is free, and it’s a great piece of software that reads almost any common audio format, and many people already use it. For a more sophisticated approach you can use the free, open-source Audacity software to edit and convert your files into WAV format. My instructions use WinAMP for simplicity. You may also use commercial sound editing products such as Sony Sound Forge or Adobe Audition if you already have them. Yamaha's Sound Decorator (later) can perform some simple editing functions if necessary.

Download the Yamaha SMAF utilities here:
http://smaf-yamaha.com/tools/downloads.html

Download the Motorola PC Sync software here: (free registration required)
http://www.mymotorola.co.kr

STEP ONE - Create the WAV File using WinAMP

STEP TWO - Convert WAV to MMF using WSD or WSC

There are at least two programs we can use for creating the MMF file from a WAV file.  Yamaha's SMAF Tools' Wave Sound Decorator and Wave Sound Converter are documented here. WSD is preferred over WSC because it is more flexible. It allows simple trimming, fading and normalization functions, and can output files in four varieties of MMF format. WSC on the other hand is a simple drag-and-drop conversion utility with no other functions at all. It doesn't even require installation. Just open the downloaded ZIP file from Yamaha and run this component: WSCMA2U.EXE.

WARNING: WSC can save ONLY in the MA-2 variety of MMF which imposes an 8KHz maximum sampling rate. Using this software will require setting an 8KHz sampling rate in your WAV files instead of the 16KHz or 22KHz options shown in the WinAMP instructions.

Using the Wave Sound Decorator

Using the Wave Sound Converter

STEP THREE - Download to your handphone using PC Sync

NOTES

Through trial-and-error I have found that the maximum file transfer size for this phone appears to be around 200KB. Motorola recommends as a general rule for all ring-tones that the maximum sound length should never exceed thirty seconds. Notably, some of Yamaha's SMAF conversion utilities will cut off any sound beyond sixty-six seconds. The two MS500 cell-phones I tried accepted MA-2, MA-3 and MA-5 versions of SMAF files. They may recognize MA-7 too but at the 44KHz sampling rates it allows, the resulting files were simply too large to transfer to the phone. Other phones may not accept SMAF formats beyond MA-2; your results may vary.