LISTEN | Yanny or Laurel: the audio clip that's fractured the Internet

16 May 2018 - 10:11 By TimesLIVE
Yanny or Laurel? Warning, this simple question may drive you nuts.
Yanny or Laurel? Warning, this simple question may drive you nuts.
Image: 123RF/erstudiostok

It's become 'the dress' debate of 2018 as a simple four-second audio clip has plunged the Internet into chaos as users ask: Yanny or Laurel?

On Tuesday, Cloe Feldman, shared this on Twitter:

It's clearly Yanny right? Or wait, is it Laurel? 

Much like the internet meltdown three years ago over the colour of a particular dress, the audio clip has polarised the internet as users wage a war on behalf of Team Yanny or Team Laurel.

Experts say it comes down to the frequencies we hear and, perhaps more importantly, the frequencies we expect to hear.

Story ran an acoustic analysis on the viral recording of the computerised voice. He also recorded himself saying "Yanny" and "Laurel," for comparison.

The Verge spoke to Professor Bharath Chandrasekaran, from the department of communications sciences and disorders at the University of Texas at Austin. He blamed the file’s noise for the confusion. “It’s a little bit noisy, so that itself causes perception to be a little more ambiguous. Because it’s noisy, your brain is filling in with what it thinks it should be.”

He also pointed out that the visual prompts on the social media posts may be helping to shape what people hear.

Brad Story from the University of Arizona's Speech Acoustics and Physiology Lab agreed, telling CNN that the low quality audio could lead to ambiguity.

"When I analysed 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."

So are you Team Yanny or Team Laurel?