'Yanny' or 'laurel'? It depends on your speakers

Carla Harmon
May 17, 2018

He played it for his peers, who disagreed over whether the syllables formed "Yanny" or "Laurel".

"For example, with a full-range higher quality speaker, I clearly only hear laurel, but over my computer speakers, I clearly only hear yanny", Ricketts said.

"What you hear doesn't mean you have better hearing or poor hearing", said Ryan McCreery, director of research at Boys Town National Research Hospital.

"And if you throw things off a little bit, in terms of it being somewhat unnatural, then it is possible to fool that perceptual system and our interpretation of it", says Story.

He noticed similarities in the features of these words, which you can see below. She said she heard Laurel.

Think of it like dinner at a busy restaurant, McCreery said.

Next, listen to this clip, which is no longer noisy. Both words share a U-shaped pattern, though they correspond to different sets of frequencies that the vocal tract produces, Story explains. Amid the background noise, you're able to focus on what your dining partner is saying.

It could be a factor.

Overall, more people heard Laurel over Yanny. If you hear Laurel, you're more likely hearing lower frequencies.

What is the recording actually saying? The original poster, user RolandCamry, wrote that he got the clip from the dictionary.com listing for "laurel".

McCreery says the acoustics for both words are present in the clip.

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