What do you hear: Yanny or Laurel?

Esequiel Farfan
May 17, 2018

Whatever you hear, all you need to do is jump on Twitter to see some of the hilarious reactions.

"But not only that, the brains themselves can be wired very differently to interpret speech", he says.

The poor quality and different audio settings, headphones or speakers could cause someone hear either laurel or yanny. That's letting them hear "Laurel" loud and clear.

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To settle this latest online debacle we consulted CBC master audio technician J.S. Villeneuve, who took the sound apart to show that it's really about the different frequencies people hear. He carried out his own experiment by analyzing a waveform image of the viral recording and compared it to recordings of himself saying "laurel" and "yanny". But others have said it's just a simple case of bass versus treble: If you happen to pick up bass tones more, you hear "Laurel". Others are paying attention to the high frequency tones, so they hear "Yanny". Where this does matter, she says, and where similar issues are at play, is how people fill in the gaps of their hearing when faced with a noisy context. However, she still heard "laurel" when she changed the pitch.

For an analogy, she cited the 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Bad Moon Rising:" "There's a bad moon on the rise" versus "there's a bathroom on the right".

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