Yanny or Laurel: It Sounds a Lot Like the Dress

Lula Sharp
May 17, 2018

It's the audio equivalent of "the dress", which drove America insane back in 2015 as millions disputed whether the outfit was white and gold or black and blue.

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.

In perhaps the most vexing element of the debate, the majority of listeners hear beyond doubt one of the two words, with few waffling between the two.

Nina Kraus, a neurobiology professor at Northwestern University, says that "it is not at all surprising to me that two different people will take a sound that is admittedly acoustically ambiguous and hear it differently". What about laurel and yanny?

I have no idea how anyone else can hear anything but "Laurel" - even when I heard a change in the bass level provided by another tweet.

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It can also depend on what you're listening to the clip on and where you're listening, McCreery said.

I, however, continue to hear "Laurel". But when he got to the office Tuesday morning, he heard "Yanny" on his computer.

Does age or health matter in terms of how you hear the clip? If you have hearing loss, it could affect a particular frequency, allowing you to hear only one of the two variations.

What is the recording actually saying? 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".

Some internet dwellers have said the clip originated on vocabulary.com for the definition of laurel.

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