Do you hear Yanny or Laurel?

Erika Holt
May 17, 2018

To answer this, we consulted experts in how human brains perceive sound.

"What one hears first depends on the how the sound is reproduced, e.g. on an iPhone speaker or headphones, and on an individual's own "ear print" which might determine their sensitivity to different frequencies", he said.

Some people believe it's the difference in quality and the device you hear the sound on.

In a tweet that has gone viral, a three second recording only has a single word that has sparked a social media war.

Roland Szabo, 18, said he recorded the seemingly innocuous audio from a vocabulary website while doing a project for his school in the U.S. state of Georgia. He also recorded himself saying "Yanny" and "Laurel", for comparison. "The interesting thing about the word Yanny is that the second frequency that our vocal track produces follows nearly the same path, in terms of what it looks like spectrographically, as Laurel".

While some clearly hear Laurel, others can't hear anything but Yanny. "There may be other words that are similar like this, where they have similar acoustics and you can change the modulation".

Britt Yazel, a neuroscience doctoral student at University of California, Davis, analyzed the sound file and filtered out all the sound above the frequency 4.5 kilohertz. Although if you adjust the frequency you can hear "Laurel", although that wasn't the case for us.

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Here we go again.

The brief audio was supposedly a computer-generated voice who said a name that may be interpreted in two ways.

"It is synthesized speech and the output is a little ambiguous", Goetz said.

Others stated that they heard "Yanny" while there were those who heard "Laurel".

Szabo then sent the clip to a friend who created the Instagram poll asking if people heard "Laurel" or "Yanny". "Your brain is trained to listen to the signal and say, 'What phoneme sequence did I hear?'"

She provides another example. "If you remove the high frequencies, you hear Laurel".

Next, listen to this clip, which is no longer noisy. "What's real to one person may not be real to another person".

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