Laurel or Yanny?
That's the question that's dividing millions of people around the world, thanks to a bizarre audio clip that can be heard two ways.
Listen to the clip below and judge for yourself:
What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel pic.twitter.com/jvHhCbMc8I
— Cloe Feldman (@CloeCouture) May 15, 2018
Many have called it the aural equivalent of 'The Dress', the optical illusion that went viral three years ago after people couldn't decide whether a garment was black and blue or white and gold.
guys help me out, does this dress say yanny or laurel pic.twitter.com/Tl2lfZKYBS
— Alex Zalben (@azalben) May 15, 2018
The Laurel-Yanny audio clip was shared widely after being posted on Reddit, and has since sparked a debate over which word the voice is saying.
Literally everything at my show just stopped to see if people hear Laurel or Yanny. I hear Laurel. https://t.co/efWRw1Gj0L
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) May 15, 2018
How do you not hear Yanny?
— ur mom (@DebbyRyan) May 16, 2018
it's so clearly laurel. I can't even figure out how one would hear yanny.
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 15, 2018
i only hear laurel i tried my best to hear yanny i’m STRESSED
— Scott Hoying (@scotthoying) May 16, 2018
So why is the clip so divisive?
Talking to the New York Times, Dr. Jody Kreiman, a principal investigator at the voice perception laboratory at the University of California, suggested that “the acoustic patterns for the utterance are midway between those for the two words.”
“The energy concentrations for Ya are similar to those for La,” she said. “N is similar to r; I is close to l.”
Others have suggested that the audio quality is a factor, and if you listen to it on your phone or laptop, you'll hear different words.
I hear laurel on my computer but yanny on my phone pic.twitter.com/VQPjHMuRAH
— alex (@heteroalexual) May 16, 2018
However, the most convincing explanation we've seen comes from Dylan Bennett, a tech expert on Twitter, who has managed to isolate higher and lower frequencies of the clip to show how that can influence what you hear:
Okay, you're not crazy. If you can hear high freqs, you probably hear "yanny", but you *might* hear "laurel". If you can't hear high freqs, you probably hear laurel. Here's what it sounds like without high/low freqs. RT so we can avoid the whole dress situation. #yanny #laurel 🙄 pic.twitter.com/RN71WGyHwe
— Dylan Bennett (@MBoffin) May 16, 2018
We tried the audio clip in the office today.
Result? Two of us heard 'Laurel' and two heard 'Yanny'.