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Do you hear Yanny or Laurel? It's the question that has vexed everyone on social media for the past 24 hours. Move over, The Dress. We have a new Internet Civil War in the midst. While everyone is arguing among themselves, the simple question remains: why do some people hear one name, while other people hear something completely different? Well, science might be our friend for that query. First things first, though. If you don't know what the hell we're talking about, check out the clip below and find out yourself if your #TeamYanny or #TeamLaurel. It won't take long. We'll wait here.
Did you hear Yanny? How about Laurel? A mix of the two? It's the conundrum that has split friendships, wrecked marriages and destroyed relationships around the world since yesterday (not really, but it's fun to pretend). The audio clip, first posted on Reddit, has polarized everyone one way or the other. If you're like me, you heard one thing yesterday and something completely different today. Maybe you're hearing them both now? It's the talk of the water cooler, and when asked why everyone hears something different, one scientist had an answer, via CNN.
According to Brad Story, a professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing at the University of Arizona, the debate relates to the less-than-stellar audio quality, which slightly muffles the sound and allows some ambiguity. The other problem is that different people are listening to the audio on different devices, whether it's a laptop, desktop computer, iPad, iPhone or what-have-you. For me personally, I hear "Yanny" on my laptop and "Laurel" on a desktop computer. Honestly, I can't explain it either. But that might play a huge rule in why different people around the globe hear completely separate names.
Brad Story attests that the original recording was likely saying "Laurel." So if you're #TeamLaurel, you can call yourself the victor for this round. But if you change the pitch of the audio recording, you can probably hear both named uttered by the robotic voice. To further test his thesis, Story recorded himself saying both names heard by varying people in the recording. Here's what he found in his research.
When I analyzed the recording of Laurel, that third resonance is very high for the L. It drops for the R and then it rises again for the L. The interesting thing about the word Yanny is that the second frequency that our vocal track produces follows almost the same path, in terms of what it looks like spectrographically, as Laurel ... If you have a low quality of recording, it's not surprising some people would confuse the second and third resonances flipped around, and hear Yanny instead of Laurel.
Hopefully, that answers your questions, though it's possible it might've confused you even more. If that's the case, then we apologize. In any case, whether you're #TeamLaurel or #TeamYanny, science is always your friend.