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Music on the iPhone: Getting The Best Use Out of the iPhone for Audio

Discover the best ways to get digital audio on your iPhone

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Whether you have just purchased your first ever iPhone or have been a proud owner for some time, you might be wondering about all the different ways you can get music (and other types of audio) on it. Long gone are the days when your only option was to download songs from the iTunes Store. For example, there are now a growing number of streaming music services that allow you to listen to an unlimited amount of music simply by using their iPhone app. Other audio sources for your iPhone include: free ringtone websites, ripping your own audio CDs, and more.

For a quick look at some of the various sources that you can use to get audio content on your iPhone, take a look at our top-picks list below.

1. Listen to Streaming Music Using Free iPhone Music Apps

Slacker Radio on iPad
Image © Slacker, Inc.

You don't have to hog all your iPhone's storage space just to carry around all your favorite albums. There are now quite a lot of streaming music services out there that offer a music app for your iPhone so you can stream rather than download. Some services also provide an offline mode so you can decide which songs to download to your Apple device so they are always available -- you can play them even if there's no Internet connection.

2. Create and Download Free Ringtones

Mediaraptor Ringtone Maker
Image © 2010 Mark Harris - Licensed to About.com, Inc.

As well as using the iTunes software to download songs from the iTunes Store, it's also possible to recycle your purchased songs into ringtones too. Why pay for a ringtone when you can make your own? With a little bit of time you can create ringtones in iTunes which you can then sync to the iPhone.

If you don't fancy creating your own, then there's plenty of websites on the Internet where you can download ringtones for free. For more information, read these articles:

3. Rip Physical Audio CDs to Create Digital Audio Copies

Image © Freedigitalphotos.net

Now you've got an iPhone that doubles as an excellent portable media player, why not rip all your original audio CDs to your music library ready to sync? Not only will it be convenient to listen to your entire physical CD collection in digital form, but it also makes sense so you can keep all your originals in a safe place. If you also store your CD albums using a lossless format like ALAC or FLAC, you'll also get a perfect digital master copies of the originals. From this, you can convert to AAC to sync to the iPhone while keeping the lossless backups on an external hard drive. If your originals are ever lost, stolen, or suffer scratches that a CD repair kit can't fix, you'll be able to burn a replacement audio CD that is identical to the original.

You don't have to use the iTunes software either to rip your audio CDs. There are free alternative audio CD ripping programs that you can download. To stay on the right side of the law, also read our Do's And Don'ts of CD Copying And Ripping.

4. Convert Analog Sources to Digital (Old Vinyl Records and Cassette Tapes)

Numark TTUSB Turntable
Image © inMusic Brands, Inc.

Online music services like the iTunes Store may have millions of songs in their libraries, but not all the old songs you have on vinyl record or cassette tape will be available. And besides, why pay when you can convert all your old audio to digital yourself? For vinyl, USB turntables offer a great total solution for converting your old records to digital audio so you can sync to your iPhone. Many turntables of this type come with software too in order to clean up pops, clicks, and hiss. Some also have added support to directly add these audio captures to your iTunes library.

Audio cassettes can also be transferred in a similar way using a USB tape converter or via your computer's soundcard input if you've got the necessary audio equipment.

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