Why Are People Hearing Different Things? 'Laurel' or 'Yanny' Explained

May 18, 2018

  What do you hear? Someone saying “laurel” or someone saying “yanny”? Well, this particular audio clip has been conflicting many internet users over the past week.


It's a very similar phenomenon to the black and blue vs white and gold dress that nearly tore up the internet three years ago.




So to settle whatever the clip is really saying, I decided to talk to a professional.


“The actual audio clip that this comes from is from vocabulary.com," said Dr. Andrew Cobabe, an audiologist with Intermountain Healthcare Budge Clinic. "I guess it was just a kid who recorded the sound on there, but if you go to vocabulary.com and look up ‘laurel’, you can play the audio clip and it sounds like ‘laurel’. So I think it has been re-recorded multiple times, or somehow otherwise edited.”




So that settles it. The clip is actually saying laurel. But why do different people hear different things?


“Our vocal tract, our throat, mouth, tongue, teeth and lips act as filters for sounds," he said. "Our vocal chords vibrate and that makes the sound, but as that sound travels through our vocal tract, it changes and filters that, so we can make different speech sounds.”


So basically Dr. Cobabe is saying that filtering can dramatically change a sound, even to the point where it sounds like something it’s not. They haven’t added any other sounds to the audio clip, they have only filtered it. So I decided to take this to the test.




What do you hear? I hear “yewie”. Here is the original clip of me saying you know what...




All I’ve done with this clip is cut out all of the low frequency, particularly anything below 2500 Hz, which took me about 3 minutes to do.