If you’ve ever worked with customers with strict legal compliance requirements, you may have seen or heard of a feature called the “recording tone.” This is a sound that notifies callers and agents that their call is being recorded. Although Cisco’s feature rich environment offers this recording tone, it comes with a few unexpected caveats:

  1. The frequency of the recording tone is high and jarring.
  2. If the recording tone is turned on, it repeats indefinitely every 15 seconds.

If we look at the recording tone specific settings, we are allowed to modify the duration, the volume and whether the tone is enabled, but NOT the number of times its repeated or the pitch of the tone:

Recording Tone, Local Volume, Remote Volume, and Duration

So how do we make the recording tone less annoying for customers? Through testing and toiling, we’ve engineered a way to make it happen.

Note: this post doesn’t cover general recording tone configuration; rather, we’ll focus on how to modify the frequency and repetition of the tone.


  • CUCM (In this demo, CUCM 11.5.1)
  • At least two network locales installed on CUCM (this allows you to have the default and customized recording tones at the same time)
  • Access to Cisco Unified OS Admin
  • Access to Cisco Unified CM Admin
  • Access to Cisco Unified Serviceability
  • Terminal with TFTP client installed
  • Test phone (In this demo, a Cisco CP-8845) with recording tone enabled

Background Details

The recording tone sound is generated based on a few cryptic settings stored in a xml file called “g3-tones.xml.”

Most of the work here will involve editing and deploying the g3-tones file to a test phone. The goal is to modify the g3-tones file with new Frequency & “repeat” values, then get the phone to use that new file.


  1. The g3-tones.xml file is tied to a network locale. Find out what network locale your target phone is using. From this phone configuration, we can see that the network locale is “United States.”
Devices-> Phones-> My 8845 phone
Device Pool and other Cisco Conact Center Settings
  1. Get the g3-tones.xml for that network locale. We will use TFTP to get the file. We can use the CUCM OS Administration as a guide for the correct file path.
CUCM OS Administration -> Software Upgrades -> TFTP File Management
g3-tones files

Command Line (Using Mac OS built in terminal for this):

tftp -e cucm.hostname.com
get united_states/g3-tones.xml
  1. Now that you’ve got the XML file, look for the xml <tone> block where t=”recording.” Mine looked like this:
<tone c1="31538" i1="-5346" d="1" t="recording">
<part m="on" t="425"/>
<part m="off" t="15000"/>
<repeat c="65535"/>

  1. Change the value of c to the number of times you’d like for the recording tone to repeat. Set both values of m to “off.”

  2. Change the value of c1 to change the pitch of the tone frequency. From some experimentation, it seems like the lower the value of c1, the lower the pitch. 25000 results in a pleasant sounding tone; this will cause the recording tone to repeat once (play twice total) and have a medium sounding pitch. The new block looks like this for me:
<tone c1="25000" i1="-5346" d="1" t="recording">
<part m="off" t="425"/>
<part m="off" t="15000"/>
<repeat c="1"/>

  1. Save the changes to the xml file, delete the existing file from CUCM OS Administration, and upload the new file to the TFTP file store under the correct directory. You don’t need to use a CLI command for the upload, as you can upload directly on the CUCM OS Administration page.
  1. Log into Cisco Unified Serviceability and restart the Cisco Tftp service.
Tools -> Control Center - Feature Services -> Restart Cisco Tftp service
Cisco Unified Serviceability Settings
  1. Browse to your test phone on CUCM. Change the network locale to any other network locale. Note that changing it to <none> will not work. You must have another network locale installed to swap to. Save, and apply config.
    1. Change the network locale back to the original network locale. Save, and apply config.

      Note: It is possible this is a bug, but the phone only seems to pull a new g3-tones xml file if you swap the network locale. That is why 2 network locales are required for this change.

    That’s it! You should now have a bit more flexibility over the recording tone setting. Check out the video below to see the difference.