Some people are hearing “Yanny” while others are hearing “Laurel”.
This audio recording is definitely a strange one. In fact, when I first listened to the recording all I heard was the word ‘Yanny’. I listened to it over and over and to me, all I ever heard was ‘Yanny’. The next morning, I listened to it again and all I heard was ‘Laurel’, clear as day, over and over and over again. Strange!
There’s a simple explanation for why people perceive one thing one way and others another way– and science can explain it.
Brad Story, Professor of Speech, Language and Hearing at The University of Arizona has a few takes on why people are hearing different words.
“It’s not a very high quality. And that in itself allows there to be some ambiguity already. You have to take into account the different ways people are listening to this — through mobile phones, headphones, tablets, etc.”
Story ran an acoustic analysis on the recording. He also recorded himself saying “Yanny” and “Laurel,” for comparison.
“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,” he said. “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.”
So the moral of the story is this. If you change the pitch of the original recording, you more than likely will hear both words.
“Most likely the original recording was ‘Laurel,'” he said.