'Yanny' Vs. 'Laurel' Debate: How To Hear It Both Ways

By Lauren Gilger, Mark Brodie, Annika Cline
Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - 5:30pm
Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2018 - 11:24am
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LAUREN GILGER: OK, Mark, remember that dress that was obviously blue and black but in some photos it looked white and gold?

MARK BRODIE: Oh, you mean the white and gold dress? That in some photos looked blue and black?

GILGER: Alright, sure. The internet has brought us another heated debate of the senses — not a picture this time, but an audio clip. The clip was posted on Twitter on Monday and went viral because different people hear different things from the same clip. 

GILGER: OK, so clearly that says "Laurel," right? Some people swear they only hear "Laurel." Some say there’s no way it can be anything other than "Yanny."

BRODIE: It does not. I hear "Yanny."

GILGER: How? I don't understand that at all.

BRODIE: There is a very obvious long "e" at the end of that, to my ears, anyway.

GILGER: I just do not hear it. 

BRODIE: So, how can people hear two different words from the same piece of audio?

GILGER: This has been the question in the hours since that first Tweet.

Some people have said they can hear both at once, while others say the clip sounds different on different devices. But it’s become pretty clear that both words do exist in the same piece of audio at the same time.

However loyal you might be to #TeamYanny or to #TeamLaurel. We tasked producer Annika Cline, with helping us break this down. She removed some of the high frequencies from the original clip.

BRODIE: Now that really sounds like "Laurel."

GILGER: Yeah, but here’s the clip, with some of the lowest frequencies removed.

BRODIE: So if this were a song, "Laurel" would be like the bass drum and "Yanny "would be a falsetto?

GILGER: Right! And if you switch between those processed clips and the original, things start sounding really weird.

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