The Fault in Our Ears
May 15, 2018 1:17 PM   Subscribe

@CloeCouture: What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel [Twitter link]

Please just help us out here. Listen to the clip below and tell us if you hear the word “Yanny” (not a word) or “Laurel.”
Depending on a number of factors — including the sound settings on your computer, and maybe more crucially, your age — you might hear one or the other.

posted by Atom Eyes (271 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yanny, or more like yeah-ee.

48 years old. The dress is white and gold.
posted by bondcliff at 1:20 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


OKay what the hell is going on.
posted by odinsdream at 1:22 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


Vox link from my post. (Team Yanny here.)
posted by rewil at 1:24 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


On my TV built-in speakers, Yanny. On my desktop with the good speakers, Laurel. Although in each case you can hear both with a bit of effort.
posted by sfenders at 1:26 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I hear “cocaine noodles.”
posted by Sys Rq at 1:27 PM on May 15 [20 favorites]


Laurel. Also 48 years old. Desktop with good speakers.
posted by Miko at 1:27 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Laurel, but this (embedded in the Vox article) seems to be the key.
posted by WCityMike at 1:27 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


Obligatory. I hear Yanny.
posted by msbutah at 1:28 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


Definitely unambiguously Laurel on my end. 27
posted by Krazor at 1:29 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


The frustrating thing is, just like the dress, I not only hear the thing I hear, but I can't comprehend how anyone could possibly hear anything else.
posted by bondcliff at 1:31 PM on May 15 [65 favorites]


Well, there's no way I could get Laurel from that, but I thought it sounded more like Yammy than Yanny.
posted by Redstart at 1:33 PM on May 15 [12 favorites]


Laurel. But I also wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
posted by chavenet at 1:33 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Yanny - but after a couple repetitions I could definitely hear an undertone of "-aurel" at the end. Is it because I'm wearing headphones?
posted by btfreek at 1:34 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


With work computer sound low, it was clearly Yanny. I turned the volume up slowly and it gradually became, and then clearly was Laurel. Then as I gradually turned the volume down, it stayed Laurel all the way down(!). Fascinating stuff.
posted by jetsetsc at 1:35 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


I (46) can only hear Laurel, no matter what device or volume setting. My nine-year-old son hears it as "Johnny" (I didn't tell him the options, just played it for him) so I guess you're not all playing a prank on me. Unless he's in on it.
posted by ook at 1:35 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Both/either (Both if I'm not focusing one way or another, either if I think specifically that way)

When I think "Yanny" it's kinda high and nasal "Yaany"; when it's "Laurel" it's kinda low and like a school documentary narrator.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:35 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


Yanny, 52. In the pitch shifts I hear Laurel on all three upshifted ones. I am deeply puzzled how the phonemes shift perceptually.
posted by mwhybark at 1:36 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Is this like the aural equivalent of that visual ilussion that has a low frequency details Einstein and a high frequency Marilyn?

You see the high frequency better up close so it looks like Marylin, and looks like Einstein from afar.

Note: I may have mixed up who gets high and low frequency details.

The older one gets the less sensitive to high frequency sound, so it would be like being 'far' from the word.
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 1:39 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


I'm a lady of a certain age, but I heard it (somehow) simultaneously as "Laurel" and "Yowie."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:39 PM on May 15


Can we get a link to the original source please?
posted by splitpeasoup at 1:39 PM on May 15


38. "Laurel" is what I hear.
posted by Fizz at 1:40 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Yammy. Sped up I hear "Yarlmy." 50, tinnitus, KRK V8 studio monitors.
posted by rhizome at 1:40 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, just like face like stimuli get special treatment in visual processing, phoneme like stimuli get special treatment too.

That is why it is so much fun to build illusions around faces and words.
posted by Index Librorum Prohibitorum at 1:40 PM on May 15


I heard Yanny the first time through, but once I started to focus on the fundamental, I can’t stop hearing Laurel. (38, semi-audio professional listening on Apple earbuds)
posted by uncleozzy at 1:41 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


What's the auditory explanation for this? Something about frequencies, people have mentioned, but I don't know anything about audio really so that doesn't mean anything to me.
posted by inconstant at 1:43 PM on May 15


Is this a "some people can't hear certain pitches" thing? I'm honestly on the verge of assuming it's one of those jokes where people say they hear something but don't really, because I've listened to it like 100 times and tired to hear it has yanny but it's unambiguously laurel in a low-pitched male voice.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:43 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


Very odd. It was Yanny for about the first 20 times, and I couldn't imagine how it could be Laurel. Then somehow I heard Laurel and it flipped, and now I can't get back to Yanny. It kind of reminds me of the rotating dancer silhouette thing.
posted by pipeski at 1:45 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


I just shared this in the office and I've started a war in our island of cubicles. Our manager actually stopped a meeting and is now asking every one in the area to stop and listen. I've disrupted work flow significantly. I'm not even sorry.
posted by Fizz at 1:45 PM on May 15 [87 favorites]


I definitely heard Yanny for the first several repetitions. Then I scrolled down, and it was Laurel forevermore.
posted by bastionofsanity at 1:45 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I haven't heard anything at all. For some reason, Firefox won't play the soundclip.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:48 PM on May 15


I heard yanny, but the pitch shift thing definitely changed it to laurel as the pitch moved up.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:49 PM on May 15


Here it is on Youtube (with a guy showing how it changes based on if it's pitched up or down).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:50 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


At first listen on speakers it was obviously Yanny. Plugged in my headphones and it was clearly Laurel.

Now that I've heard both I can pick out either from the speaker; headphones are still overwhelmingly Laurel with a hint of Yanny in the background.

30, decent but not top-notch speakers/earphones.
posted by egregious theorem at 1:50 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Yanny at first through my crappy computer speakers, at either low or high volume.

Plugged in some earbuds and it was Yanny at low volumes, transitioned to Laurel at higher volumes (all very bassy), and transitioned back down to Yanny at low volumes.

It's absolutely a bass thing for me. Laurel is all bass, Yanny is all treble, and the volume setting brings out more of one than the other.

... well, shit. I thought it was but I just went back to listen with computer speakers only and now that I know how to make it sound like Laurel it was more Laurel than Yanny. Still not as easily-distinguished as with the earbuds but it's there the whole time. Damn it.
posted by komara at 1:50 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Headphones, sounds more like Gary than either. Sort of a longer sound mixing gaaaareee and geaaree. 52, not so great ears.
posted by jclarkin at 1:52 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Yanny. I'm 44.
posted by Kriesa at 1:53 PM on May 15


And at higher volume it's _clearly_ Laurel. Weird.
posted by jclarkin at 1:54 PM on May 15


Pontypool?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 2:01 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]




47. Laurel
posted by 4ster at 2:02 PM on May 15


I hear both sort of superimposed on one another. All together it sounds sort of like "Yawy" (rhymes with "Gary" as pronounced by a three-year-old).
posted by ourobouros at 2:02 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Yanny at first, then Laurel. The weird thing is I've reopened it every 15 minutes and I always hear Yanny at first, then Laurel if I think about it, then I can make my self alternate hearing one or the other, but it's harder to "switch" back to Yanny, and if I hear Laurel twice I can never hear Yanny for that session.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:02 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


33, on incredibly shitty internal PC speaker: Yanny.

BUT

I kept listening to it to try and figure out how you could possibly hear "Laurel" and I started hearing it, and now I hear Laurel. I'm unwilling to attempt the return trip to Yanny. It's definitely the case that all the "Yanny" sounds are high-frequency and all the "Laurel" sounds are low-frequency.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:02 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


48, listening on headphones. The original is a somewhat garbled Laurel, up-shifting makes it more and more clearly Laurel. Downshifting 20% comes out something like "yerry" down 30% gets to "yelly."
posted by Four Ds at 2:03 PM on May 15


I posted in AskMefi about another example of this phenomenon (only it has political implications). Might be worth checking out for those curious about this sort of thing.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 2:09 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Laurel. Age 51, macbook pro speakers.
posted by Morpeth at 2:09 PM on May 15




What's the auditory explanation for this? Something about frequencies, people have mentioned, but I don't know anything about audio really so that doesn't mean anything to me.

My attempt at a simplified version; apologies to any other phoneticians/acoustic folks reading this: we make speech by vibrating our vocal folds. The vibrations then pass through our mouths, which modifies the sounds in some ways. What comes out is a very complex waveform. A simple sine wave just goes up and down, right? Like so? Sound waves from speech look a lot more complicated; like so.

We can do math on that complicated wave: it's basically the combination of lots of simple sine waves. You can try it out for yourself here. We measure the frequency of the sine waves that make up that complex wave; frequency is how often the pattern of the wave repeats.

So, what the heck is going on here? We have an unholy frankenwave. The higher frequencies in the wave are from "Yanny"; the lower frequencies, from "Laurel".

Here's the audio passed through a low pass filter (so you can only hear the high frequencies); you should hear "Yanny": low pass; here's the audio passed through a high pass filter (so you can only hear the low frequencies); you should hear "Laurel" high pass

So, depending on if your brain is focusing on the higher or lower frequencies (or your sound system attenuates the higher or lower frequencies), you'll hear either 'Yanny' or 'Laurel' in the original.
posted by damayanti at 2:12 PM on May 15 [21 favorites]


What you hear — everything you hear — is shaped in some way by your previous experiences. This is most obvious with music, where training makes it easier to identify component parts of a symphony. So just like in a noisy cocktail party, your brain is filling in what it doesn’t quite hear, based in part on what you expect to hear and what you’ve heard before.

I'm no phonologist, but my brother told me something surprising that he learned when he got tested for tinnitus and goes a bit further: tinnitus isn't your ears "ringing," but your brain filling in the frequencies it's not getting from the outside world.
posted by rhizome at 2:14 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


"Rosebud".
posted by Pendragon at 2:14 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I've listened to this so many times the word Yanny has lost all meaning for me
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:17 PM on May 15 [22 favorites]


It sounds like a cartoon bullfrog saying "Laurel" and Boo-Boo Bear saying "Yanny"
posted by jason_steakums at 2:17 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


53, decent speakers, Laurel.
posted by fings at 2:19 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Doesn't sound like anything to me.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:20 PM on May 15 [28 favorites]


On my iPhone, the kids and I (7, 9, 45) all heard Laurel. On my MacBook, it stlll sounded like Laurel to me, but the kids heard Yanney or Yammey. Interesting.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:21 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


41, Skullcandy earbuds + crappy desktop speakers, both unambiguously "Laurel".
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:22 PM on May 15


I hear both sort of superimposed on one another. All together it sounds sort of like "Yawy" (rhymes with "Gary" as pronounced by a three-year-old).

Yes! It was weirding me out how nobody else seemed to be hearing the W sound.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:25 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Started listening with rear-facing speakers on my docking station. Listened to the loop like 50x and could not for the life of me hear anything but Yanny.

Fired up my phone and instantly heard the bass voice say Laurel, smothering the high frequency Yanny.
posted by CheapB at 2:26 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


To me it sounds like two voices, one saying "Yanny" (or something like that) at a higher pitch and weirdly distorted, and another saying "Laurel" at a lower pitch in a more normal voice. There are probably too many variables for anyone to explain it all precisely, but here are a few of them:

1. Age-related or other hearing loss: Older people tend to hear less of the higher frequencies, so should be more likely to hear "Laurel", on average.

2. Speaker response: If your speakers are small and cheap, the response curve will be not very flat, possibly unpredictable. Higher- or lower-pitched sounds might come out not as loud as they should.

3. Equalizer settings: Well, obviously whatever sound settings you have will affect this. Maybe press the "bass boost" button or something.

4. Room acoustics: If you're not using headphones, the room will have some influence. High frequencies will reflect off the walls at a different amplitude than low ones. There might be standing waves that affect things, so just moving around and turning your head could affect what you hear.

5. If you want to hear "laurel", try putting your hands over your ears, blocking some of the higher frequencies. If you want to hear "yanny", try cupping your hands around your ears aimed at the speakers to catch the higher frequencies which will bounce off your hands better than the bass. Works for me, anyway.

6. If you want to hear both, maybe a background in choral music would help. Spend a few hours concentrating carefully and you'll probably get it.
posted by sfenders at 2:26 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


Laurel, good headphones, bass heavy. Filtered I could hear "yeahny" rather than "yawnee". I'm old and spent my formative years parked in front of towers of punk and heavy metal speakers. That I can hear anything is rather astonishing.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 2:29 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Here's the audio passed through a low pass filter (so you can only hear the high frequencies); you should hear "Yanny": low pass; here's the audio passed through a high pass filter (so you can only hear the low frequencies); you should hear "Laurel" high pass

Ummm...I only hear Laurel both times. Apparently I just don't hear high pitches anymore?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:30 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I'm 52. Decent desktop speakers, good hearing for my age. "Yanny" at low volume, "Laurel" at high volume. The pitch-shifting experiment reveals "Yanny" at low pitches and "Laurel" at high pitches. It's really uncanny.
posted by adamrice at 2:31 PM on May 15


Ummm...I only hear Laurel both times. Apparently I just don't hear high pitches anymore?

My friend who is only hearing Laurel had the same thing happen! I'm guessing part of it might depend on your brain/sound system. The pitch shifting experiment linked somewhere above might work a bit better, as it has more ranges picked out.

Anyway, another explanation from a linguist: here. This is a slightly more complicated version, but the TL;DR version is still, broadly, "What frequencies in the sound wave are you focusing on, and how are you interpreting them?"
posted by damayanti at 2:33 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Laurel, I'm 35.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:36 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


49, Laurel
posted by Malla at 2:39 PM on May 15


53, decent speakers, Laurel.

Laurel, I'm 35.

Laurel. Age 51, macbook pro speakers.

Laurel. But I also wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Reading this thread of comments, it's like we're all talking to someone named Laurel and we're all being super passive aggressive as we discuss our headphones and speakers and we're using our age as proof of our wisdom and superiority to prove a point.

“Ummm laurel, I'm 35, I know what I'm talking about and I use Apple earbuds.”
posted by Fizz at 2:41 PM on May 15 [39 favorites]


I hear "laurel" clearly enough that that would probably have been my guess without knowing what the interpretations were. There's a lot of mid-high frequency distortion on it, though, that causes me to hear "yanny" if I really try hard. 58, desktop speakers.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:42 PM on May 15


Reading this thread of comments, it's like we're all talking to someone named Laurel and we're all being super passive aggressive as we discuss our headphones and speakers and we're using our age as proof of our wisdom and superiority to prove a point.

I believe the name for this is Yannsplaining.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:44 PM on May 15 [22 favorites]


Heard Yanny when I had other audio going on in the background, Laurel after I muted it. "Laurel" sounds like a pronunciation from an online dictionary. The Yanny sounds a lot more like high-frequency/resonance artifacts. (Age 31, built-in monitor speakers.)
posted by NMcCoy at 2:46 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Yanny, 36, on expensive noise cancelling headphones.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:47 PM on May 15


The pitch shifting experiment linked somewhere above might work a bit better, as it has more ranges picked out.

That worked. I hear Yanny on the downshifted ones. Now I can go on with my day.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:47 PM on May 15


There's a lot of mid-high frequency distortion on it, though, that causes me to hear "yanny" if I really try hard.

That is to say, I can clearly hear the high-end distortion, but due to a musical and sound-engineer background I immediately discounted it as noise and sort of ignored it. If I don't ignore it I can understand how it could sound like "yanny".
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:47 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I started out hearing "Yanny" and thinking this was some kind of McGurk Effect thing. On further exploration, damayanti's above comment is absolutely right, but I'm still linking the McGurk Effect because it's cool.
posted by capricorn at 2:47 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Is this like the aural equivalent of that visual ilussion that has a low frequency details Einstein and a high frequency Marilyn?

It's that almost exactly, although in the analogy your eyes get blurrier as you age and it's being displayed on devices of wildly varying fidelity.
posted by Jpfed at 2:49 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Decent gamer cans
Volume at 1: Yammy.
Volume at 2-3: Either?
Volume at 4+: Laurel.

Etymotic IEMs: It's always only ever Laurel.

51, and hearing tests report no damage.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:53 PM on May 15


I 100% hear Yuri.
posted by amarynth at 2:56 PM on May 15


I hear "clickbait".

But no, seriously: I was sensitized to both words by the summaries being posted, and so hear a kind of Necker-cube amalgam of both words.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 2:59 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Yanny. (but not Yanni.) 54, single-sided hearing loss since early childhood, listening through a mono Sennheiser headset on the computer.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:04 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Had headphones on partially and initially heard a very robotic Yanny but when I put them on completely and turned up the volume, it was fairly clearly Laurel with a kind of robotic buzz over top. The Yanny seems to pop out at lower volumes. Which I think is likely just cutting out the bass more and letting the high pitched components come to the fore.
posted by delicious-luncheon at 3:04 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I'm in my mid-30s and I have had three ear infections in the last five years, making me actually concerned about my hearing despite not only being a big Risk Reduction person and having earplugs at every concert I went to since I was 19 or so, but still hearing all the electronics sing in the summer... Yanny. Just Yanny. Headphones, speakers, loosely covered ears. Now, if I pull out my trusty but not-special earplugs and go one at a time, still Yanny, but both in actually produced a Laurel.

Considerations: 1. Might still ask for an ENT referral and 2. Time to invest in better earplugs since I'm obviously losing some frequencies at concerts.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:07 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Yanny. 59. Macbook Pro.
posted by DaddyNewt at 3:15 PM on May 15


39, Yanny. Oneplus 5t. 9 year old also heard Yanny.
posted by k8t at 3:20 PM on May 15


So very Yanny, until pitched up in the Nerd Guy youtube video, then clearly Laurel. Madness.
posted by davejay at 3:22 PM on May 15


That was weird. It was Yammy until I listened to the pitch-shifted versions. Once the pitch was shifted upward it was clearly Laurel. And then when I listened to the original again, it had changed to Laurel. Then I tried the downward-pitched ones again and they mostly sounded like Laurel, too.
posted by Redstart at 3:26 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Like others, I initially heard Yanny, with headphones, without, computer, phone. Then I watched the Nerd Guy video, cranked my volume to max and listened with headphones and I could finally hear Laurel. When I turned it back to a lower volume, they alternated for a while before going back to Yanny.

I played it for my boyfriend without explanation and he heard it saying Laurel at the same time I was hearing Yanny. We exchanged horrified looks.

I'm 31. The dress is white and gold.
posted by chatongriffes at 3:28 PM on May 15


I heard "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God," but I didn't expect much better.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:29 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


Only getting Laurel here, and not one out of 20 under-12 kids here heard yanny. All over various phones.
posted by goinWhereTheClimateSuitsMyClothes at 3:32 PM on May 15


Seems like a more specific take on the Shepard Tone Illusion
posted by CheapB at 3:40 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


Laurel. 47, male, left ear blowed up reeeal good in the Army.


*the extra "ees" are what I hear in quiet rooms or near high pitched sounds. eeeeeeeeeeeeeee
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 3:54 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


glossolalia
posted by infinitewindow at 3:55 PM on May 15


Definitely Laurel but I did hear some version of Yanny in the pitch shift video. 47, moderate tinnitus.
posted by cooker girl at 3:56 PM on May 15


What tha...?

48 - YANNY - MacBook built in speakers.

I've turned up the volume, down, listened to all the pitch shifts...it's Yannis all the way down.
posted by clseace at 4:02 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Low volume= yanny. High volume= Laurel . I'm middle age.
posted by RuvaBlue at 4:11 PM on May 15


Fascinating, damayanti!

The pitch shifting videos worked to reveal the hidden "laurel" to me (boy was it trippy to hear the video go "YEAHNEE. YEAHKNEE." / "...see? it just says 'laurel'!") but nothing else -- speakers vs headphones, changing the volume, covering my ears, etc. -- made a difference.
posted by inconstant at 4:12 PM on May 15


nice try internet marketers but you're not getting my age and desktop audio playback hardware profile today! #laurel
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:14 PM on May 15 [6 favorites]


I can hear both. Pitching up moves the "yanny" frequencies out of audible range, and pitching down does the same thing for the "laurel" frequencies.
posted by grumpybear69 at 4:15 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Playing it on my laptop, I hear Laurel, and very faintly hear Yanny. My husband only hears Yanny and cannot believe anyone hears Laurel at all.
posted by sarcasticah at 4:19 PM on May 15


24, heard Yanny first on decent speakers. Turned the volume up and put headphones on, Laurel jumped out. Now I can hear both of them at once.
posted by solarion at 4:24 PM on May 15


I only hear laurel when it is way-the-fuck pitch-shifted. I can't figure out if that means I should continue to play my music loud or not.
posted by maxwelton at 4:25 PM on May 15


Remember that shitty movie Electronic Voice Phenomena White Noise? At first a “ghostly” Yanny was all I heard and Laurel was incomprehensible. Now I reloaded the link and Laurel is clear as day but Yanny vanished. Same age, same equipment both times!
posted by Monochrome at 4:32 PM on May 15


The thing that bothers me about this is that I can hear the spiky frequency cruft that turns into Yanni, but I just hear it as spiky frequency cruft, like it's almost painful at volume. But my brain filters it out into the very easy to understand Laurel.

The clicks and background noise in the clip bother me. I wonder if they're part of the effect or if this is a second-hand waveform, and if it is second-hand, what it would sound like in it's first generation form. I mean: what has two round trips of shitty audio compression done to the original clip?
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:36 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


See also the Tritone Paradox - like Shepard tones but peculiar for being very hard to mentally reverse as you might a Necker Cube illusion and also because how you hear it is strongly linked to the geographical area you're from.
posted by edd at 4:38 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I wonder what the yanny-hearers would hear if they weren't primed to hear Yanny by the question. I might show this to my wife without telling her what word to listen for and see what she hears, although I have no easy way to correct for speaker quality.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:40 PM on May 15


I wonder what the yanny-hearers would hear if they weren't primed to hear Yanny by the question.

I played it in the presence of my 4-year-old and asked him what he heard. Yanny. He didn't see the word "Yanny." I can only hear Laurel unless it is drastically pitch-altered.
posted by synecdoche at 4:44 PM on May 15


I only hear Laurel, even on the apparently pitch-shifted versions. My speakers and headphones may be too good, or I may be too old, or both.

The dress, however was white-black-gold-blue.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:45 PM on May 15


Yanni, very clearly. 46. Heard Laurel on the high-pitch-shifted version.

The dress had four lights.
posted by kyrademon at 4:55 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


38, Yanny, MacBook Pro speakers and a crappy headset.
I can only hear Laurel when it's pitch shifted.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:55 PM on May 15


Laurel. On my spouse's computer, my spouse's headphones, and my computer which has studio monitors on it (I'm an electronic musician).

...except when I go back to it again and it's Yanny sometimes.

I played with EQ settings, and found that my spouse (Team Yanny) hears "Laurel" if I put a peak from about 900-1400Hz and it's "Yanny" again at 1700. In the middle, it seems to depend on which she heard most recently. During that whole test it was "Laurel" for me (but if I highpass it around that range, I hear more "Yanny".)

The formants for both the "oh" in "laurel" and the the "aaah" in "yanny" are both present. The shape of our ears and/or something about the differences in our brains that decodes frequencies (which can even fill in missing ones if it expects to hear them!) predispose us to hear one more than the other.
posted by Foosnark at 5:06 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


38, Laurel, iPhone.

I loved the dress illusion. I could see that one both ways at first, but when I recently revisited the image that was no longer true - I could only see black and blue.
posted by eirias at 5:07 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Yanny at first, then by mouthing Laurel in time with the clip I was able to hear Laurel. Then it stayed at Laurel without me even needing to mouth it until I stopped listening to the clip. Then I took a minute's break from the clip and it was Yanny again. Then I got it to change back over to Laurel, and now I can't seem to unhear Laurel and mouthing Yanny makes no difference.
posted by Panthalassa at 5:21 PM on May 15


All on the same iPhone external speakers. Tried it in the car leaving the office: Laurel. Got home, tried again, tried the pitch shifted versions, different volume levels: Laurel. Went upstairs to try it on my daughter and her friends: WE ALL HEARD YANNY. Went downstairs to play it for my wife, I HEAR LAUREL, SHE HEARS YANNY. Back upstairs, THEY HEAR YANNY, I STILL HEAR LAUREL. What the actual.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:21 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I had my wife listen to it cold and she said "Yummy. No, Yammy" I heard Yanny quite clearly, on my phone. On good headphones at low volume, Yanny, as I turn it up I can hear both.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:28 PM on May 15


I can easily hear both at once, though Yanny is more prominent and what I heard first.
posted by johnny jenga at 5:35 PM on May 15


Laurel and I will fight you.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:47 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Yammy for me at 47, both through the laptop speakers and through B & W earbuds. Seems pretty volume independent, at least for me.
posted by sfred at 5:49 PM on May 15


My partner (38) and child (5) also hear Laurel.
posted by eirias at 6:17 PM on May 15


Oddly, I hear only YAHR-wee. 64 with a bit of tinnitus.
posted by workerunit at 6:23 PM on May 15


When I hold my phone, it’s Yanny (for me). When Mr Nat does, it’s Laurel.

For him it’s Laurel always.

And now that I’ve heard Laurel enough, same for me. Can’t figure out how to get back to Yanny.
posted by nat at 6:24 PM on May 15


I can't get the iPhone's voice-to-text transcription to recognize this as language at all. I think that's the giveaway that there's a whole lot of audio formant fuckery going on.

Has anyone else managed to get a computer transcription?
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:25 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


40ish and all I got on multiple devices at various volumes is Laurel.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:28 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Laurel. I'm 46 and listening on surround speakers.

How is it anything other than Laurel? Yanny? How could it possibly be Yanny?
posted by Sphinx at 6:34 PM on May 15


Started with volume high on my iPhone, heard “Laurel” (in a male voice). Took a break to watch a TV show, came back with volume low, heard “Yanny” (which sounded very clipped and nasal). Incrementally increased the volume, and at a certain volume it shifted from “Yanny” to “Laurel”. As in, at one volume notch, I heard “Yanny” once and then as it looped again, it changed to “Laurel”, but with a tiny bit of “Yanny” in the background; then “Yanny” disappeared entirely and it was only “Laurel”. Then, as I incrementally decreased the volume again, it stubbornly stayed “Laurel” all the way down to mute.
posted by snowmentality at 6:41 PM on May 15


The answer is that we actually all live in different, superimposed universes with varying objective realities and we just pretend there's one consistent universe. Some people are more adept at navigating between universes on the fly.
posted by windykites at 6:41 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


I'm 59 and have hearing loss, but I hear both words clearly on my iMac.
posted by Miss Cellania at 6:49 PM on May 15


On my headphones at work, I could only hear Yanny if it was shifted down 30%--not even a hint of it otherwise. But on the MacBook speakers, I can kind of hear Laurel if I'm trying really hard, but it's mostly Yanny.
posted by Sequence at 6:50 PM on May 15


40, audio engineer, listening on good hifi speakers. I can clearly hear both unless the volume is very low, in which case it's Yanny. I suspect that's the Fletcher-Munson curve at work.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 6:53 PM on May 15


My wife and I just listened to it at the same time . . . I hear Yanny, she hears laurel.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:02 PM on May 15


My psychoacoustic expert husband told me it is something to do with formants for vowels but now he is trying to put the child to bed so will have to wait for more. Both husband and child hear Yanny, while I am Laurel. I tried the blue/gold dress on the family also, and now the child doesn't want to go to bed as she wants to review "all the internet voting fights".
posted by recklessbrother at 7:03 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


48 iPad speaker at the table just now, definitely yanny. Without telling her the context I then played for my wife (46) and as I heard yanny again she immediately said “ laurel, what else would I hear?” When I told her I hear yanny I had to spend like 10 minutes convincing her I wasn’t messing with her, even after I showed her the thread.

Interestingly I have tinnitus but am wearing hearing aids that fix my high end, and she has some hearing loss from rocking out too much herself.
posted by freecellwizard at 7:04 PM on May 15


ELEVEN YEARS ago (!), I had an AskMe question about Mario Party on the gamecube, and whether Yoshi was saying "Woo-Hoo!" or "Yoshi!"

I marked this as best answer:

I always thought it was 'Wahoo' and I recorded his exclamation off Mario 64 DS, where he does it incessantly to prove it. After listening to it loop a few times though I'm sorry to report that he actually is saying 'Yoshi': sound + pitchshift
posted by moift at 11:02 PM on December 17, 2007


The link where moift lowered the pitch is lost now but that was the exact moment when I realized my kids were right and I was, in fact, losing my hearing in the upper ranges.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:07 PM on May 15


I bet some of the Twitter or Facebook polls have data with the same people reporting on both the dress and the audio. It would be interesting to see whether the two were correlated, especially controlling for age and, ideally, speaker/screen quality. And then we could compare results to Big 5 scores, or Voight-Kampff.
posted by chortly at 7:15 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I first listened to the recording through my phone's speaker, outside, with a fair amount of ambient noise. I heard something like "Yarry," but quite distorted. Now, I'm listening to it on my computer through headphones, and I hear a distinct "laurel," which comes from a voice that sounds like a computerized telephone recording. ... But as I keep listening, it's beginning to sound more like "lorrow." For science's sake, I'm 31.
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 7:21 PM on May 15


Updates from husband (child still awake). He tells me that it's partly physiology, which is to do with how sensitive you are to certain frequency ranges, and partly to do with the conditioning and exposure to sounds you have. When different ranges are masking each other (as in this case), your ear/brain complete a filtering and you pick the ones that make more sense to you and that your ear can hear better. He suggests folks might be interested in reading Steve McAdam's Thinking in Sound or about Albert Bregman's experiments to learn more. (Still team Laurel).
posted by recklessbrother at 7:31 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Neither. I hear, clearly, "Yarry". 45, significant tinnitus.
posted by gsh at 7:35 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Wait, are the two posted sound clips different? The first link is “yanny” and the second is “laurel”.
posted by sucre at 7:52 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL! Now they sound the same! I was hearing Laurel loud and clear and then a Yanny popped in. Holy shit.
posted by sucre at 7:54 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


I hear both. Or neither. It sounds like YAUREL. Starts with a Y, ends with an L.
posted by zardoz at 8:07 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Listened today outdoors on earbuds and heard "yawy" though I understood it as a superposition of sounds. Listened tonight in a quite place and only head "Laurel." 58, serious tinnitus from too many punk rock shows.
posted by sjswitzer at 8:15 PM on May 15


When I listen on my iPhone 6S+ built in speaker, it is Yanny. So much so, that, yeah, how in the hell could anyone hear Laurel. Then I try it again on that same iPhone but this time using my Skull Candy Bluetooth earbuds. Plainly Laurel, no question. Weird. Oh, and I’m 62.
posted by marsha56 at 8:46 PM on May 15


The real question is who are the more evolved and superior humans: those who hear "Yanny" or those who hear "Laurel"?
posted by jeremias at 8:52 PM on May 15


Whoa. I heard only "Laurel" (Macbook Pro) and could not conceive how it could possibly sound like "Yanny." So I went to my husband (Windows laptop) and asked him to listen to it blind. He first heard "Yaurel," then "Laurel." But on his laptop, I was now hearing "Yanny!" Then I went back to my Macbook, and now all I can hear is "Yanny." When I heard "Laurel" it sounded NOTHING like "Yanny," but now that I hear "Yanny," it sounds NOTHING like "Laurel." This is 'sploding my brain.
posted by taz at 8:56 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


There is only Laurel.
posted by yhbc at 9:04 PM on May 15


I hear Laurel on my iPad. Clear as a bell. When I play it for my husband on the same iPad, he hears Yammy. Furthermore, he can’t hear Laurel at all in the upshifted versions. He says there’s no “L” in any of them. Hmm, maybe we can blame any future communication difficulties on this...
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:34 PM on May 15


On my phone, it was clearly Laurel, but with a hint of Yanny in the higher frequencies. Then I listened to it on my laptop and it was Yanny. Then I listened to it again on my phone and I can hear both - it's like they're both being said at the same time in different pitches. I'm in my late 20s.
posted by airmail at 9:35 PM on May 15


> Joey Michaels:
"Laurel and I will fight you."

Laurel, 50.5, Sony Bravia TV speakers via NVidia HDMI, tinnitus bad enough I tried military enlistment three times. I even heard Lauren during the normal playback on the pitchshifting video when the host first played it. Non-Lauren in the high pitched version, but I didn't hear Yanny either.
posted by Samizdata at 9:37 PM on May 15


> Knowyournuts:
"I hear Laurel on my iPad. Clear as a bell. When I play it for my husband on the same iPad, he hears Yammy. Furthermore, he can’t hear Laurel at all in the upshifted versions. He says there’s no “L” in any of them. Hmm, maybe we can blame any future communication difficulties on this..."

DTMFA. (Sorry, this is MeFi.)
posted by Samizdata at 9:38 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Here's the audio passed through a low pass filter (so you can only hear the high frequencies); you should hear "Yanny": low pass; here's the audio passed through a high pass filter (so you can only hear the low frequencies); you should hear "Laurel" high pass

This is a backward description (and more importantly, labeling) of low-pass versus high pass. Sorry to be a pedant but things are confusing enough around here!
posted by atoxyl at 9:38 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Which is to say the low-pass is the one that lets the lows - but not the highs - pass.
posted by atoxyl at 9:41 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I'm a woman who just turned 50. I came across this in my feed reader, listened, and it was unambiguously "Yanny." Then about 10 minutes later, I came across it again (EVERYbody has a story on it today) on another site's feed and played it again only half paying attention, and was shocked to hear "Laurel" just as unambiguously. These things are so interesting to me.
posted by thebrokedown at 10:01 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


When the page was still spinning up after I clicked the first like I heard yanny , but every subsequent loop was definitely laurel.

P.S. Yanni.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:02 PM on May 15


Yanny & Laurel
posted by rhizome at 10:19 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


43, male, iPhone 8 “Yanny”
My 11 yo son can only hear “Laurel” and my 42 yo wife hears “Gary”.

On subsequent relistens, I could hear both at the same time. Now, I can only hear Laurel.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 10:23 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Tinnitus, 50, cellphone earbuds: only Laurel, in the original and all the pitch-up-shifted versions (as well as both of damayanti’s frequency-passes), and st all volumes; Yanni (or something to that effect) in both the pitch-down-shifted versions.
posted by progosk at 12:35 AM on May 16


WAIT WHAT?? Changed room, had breakfast - and now (same gear) it’s only Yanni!?!
posted by progosk at 1:03 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


FFS, it's Yanny. Don't anyone tell me otherwise because I'm an audio editor and if I find out I should be hearing laurel I'll have an existential crisis.
posted by popcassady at 1:24 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


54, my doctor says my hearing is fine, but I can't hear the insects during summer.
Last night, with my MacBook Pro on low volume I could only hear Yanny. When I got up this morning and turned up the volume, still Yanny. Then I went and found my B&W headphones and it was clearly Laurel. WTF?!? Then I heard it again without headphones and it was back to Yanni. OK. Then I read all of the comments and went to try it out on my iPad and phone, both were clearly Laurel. And now I can only hear Laurel on all gadgets, including the laptop. It's really fascinating and weird in a good way.
BTW I was originally a blue dress person, but after I got the explanation I can only see the white. I don't really understand acoustics, so I don't think all this stuff people are writing about volume and pitch has changed my perception.
posted by mumimor at 1:42 AM on May 16


Ok... changed location again, and the original (still same gear) is back to Laurel, so ambient sound definitely plays a role.
posted by progosk at 1:43 AM on May 16


The audio quality on this clip is much better.
posted by popcassady at 1:47 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Earlier it was a weird mix of both "Yowie" and "Laurel," but I just had my girlfriend play it on her computer and it was straight-up "Laurel," then I came back to my computer and now it's only "Laurel" here too. This clip is witchcraft.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:57 AM on May 16


This is fascinating. We have a significant population divided into normal people hearing "Laurel" and a regrettably severely neurologically compromised cohort of obvious ne'er-do-wells ludicrously claiming to hear "Yanny". I blame Obama.
posted by Chitownfats at 2:33 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


It was so clearly YANNY. I’m on an iPhone, speaker, 40ish F. Then I read something on twitter that said to touch the speaker to your mouth (hush now) to hear LAUREL.

AND IT WORKED. It was so clearly laurel.

And then I discovered that if I hold the phone vertical, it’s yanny. Horizontal it’s laurel.
posted by mochapickle at 2:59 AM on May 16


For me popcassady's link says "cleaner" unambiguously (definitely not Yanny or Laurel). The one in the link is way more ambiguous -- it takes very little repositioning of some cheap headphones over my hearing aids to switch between jammy and and moral, perhaps a milimetre or so, which means it works to adjust them individually as well. Hearing one through one aid and the other through the other is a bit odd but it also sounds like the most "complete" noise. Individually they're a bit lacking.

All I can say is, I don't know how these morals got themselves jammed in our ears or why.
posted by E. Whitehall at 3:23 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I listened on my computer last night; I heard what sounded like "yanny", but with a deeper-voiced "laurel" spliced onto it somehow. Kind of like the aural equivalent of a double image. But "yanny" was more prominent.

Then this morning, i was listening to my cheap bedside radio and the BBC covered it. And it was "laurel" that was in the foreground that time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:31 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I... it was Yanny. Always Yanny. Then this morning I played it on the laptop instead and it was Laurel. Then it was Laurel on my phone which I'd listened to it on originally.

Then I had a coffee, sat back down and it's Yanny again on the phone.

But still Laurel on the laptop.

I'm on my third cup of coffee though, and I fear a fourth coffee may have even more unpredictable results.
posted by edd at 3:38 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Like the blue/gold dress, this has torn our household apart.

This morning on my iPhone speaker I could hear Laurel and ONLY Laurel in a sort of low pitch. I can't imagine hearing anything else. My husband said it sounded like mumbling, maybe yammy, but no way Laurel. Just like the dress thing, this made me really upset for no reason.

I just listed to it again on cheap earbuds off my laptop and it sounds like Yanny and ONLY Yanny in a higher pitch. I can't imagine hearing anything else.

I hate this future.
posted by like_neon at 3:40 AM on May 16


Wait I just played it again on my laptop earbuds and now I hear Laurel. Can someone please press the next stop button on this reality train? I want to get off before I throw up please.
posted by like_neon at 3:42 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


When I first came across this, I muted the radio (which is playing 2FM a fairly tinny pop station) to listen to it and heard 'yanny'. I tried again on nice noise-cancelling over-the-ear headphones - 'yanny' again.

I put the radio back on, playing its tinny pop tunes, and tried again - it turned into 'laurel'. Muted the radio - still 'laurel'. Same speakers, same ears. What's going on?
posted by winterhill at 3:56 AM on May 16


Hooray! I've finally managed to achieve the decollapse of my quantum wavefunction and now I can hear both at the same time. Now all I need to do is either write a Nature paper and get a Nobel Prize in Physics, or go become an amazing vet who can resurrect recently deceased cats.

Wait... no, I can do both now, can't I?
posted by edd at 4:10 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


29, moderately hearing impaired, heard Yanny when first played through laptop speakers. Plugged in headphones, heard Laurel clear as a bell (or as clear as I ever hear anything, anyway). Removed headphones, still heard Laurel. Went away for a bit, came back, played through speakers again, back to Yanny.

Played to SO (28, good hearing). He only hears Yanny.
posted by lwb at 4:43 AM on May 16


> "He only hears Yanny."

YANNY IS HIS ONLY GOD NOW
posted by kyrademon at 4:46 AM on May 16 [5 favorites]


I so clearly hear "yanny" (or yeammy) on my phone or laptop, that I feel like this is like when I was 9 and everyone said they could see a sailboat or rose through the Magic Eye, but I felt like they were obviously bullshitting because it's just a bunch of ugly repetitive patterns.
posted by raztaj at 4:55 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


The real question is how do I best work this into the pub quiz I am hosting tonight?
posted by Rock Steady at 5:08 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Yanny. 42 years old. Have been to lots of loud shows. Did not wear earplugs.
posted by thivaia at 5:20 AM on May 16


I hear "murder". But if I listen to the pitch shifted ones, the 3 "up" ones change it to "Kill."
posted by dobbs at 5:32 AM on May 16 [6 favorites]


The real question is how do I best work this into the pub quiz I am hosting tonight?


Play the clip and ask people to write down what they hear.

1 point if they write Yanny or Laurel.

5 points if they write Z̓̓ͤ̍̊ALͬͬ̒̃̋͂G̉̌ͦ̇O͆ͬ̑̈́̃̌!̓ͭ
posted by like_neon at 5:35 AM on May 16 [4 favorites]


YIKES! I'm back to Yanny! This is crazy-making
posted by mumimor at 5:42 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


No-one else thinks that the results of this are being piped into the AI that will eventually take over our lives?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:19 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


I heard Yanny, a friend hear Laurel. I took a break and when I came back I imagined hearing Laurel. Then I heard Laurel.

So that's weird. I couldn't switch back to yanny.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:53 AM on May 16


Dollars to doughnuts this was produced by a formant synthesis program and consists of two passes of identical jaw movement with the virtual tongue in a different position for each pass.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:54 AM on May 16


Mumimor! Me, too!! It's freaking uncanny!
Totally expected "Laurel" again and instead got "Yanny." This means I started with Yanny, it switched to Laurel, and after sleeping on it, Yanny again.
The thing that is blowing my mind is how clearly one or the other it is. It's not, maaaaybe I hear it, or it could go either way. Fascinating.
posted by thebrokedown at 6:58 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


47, Yanny, unless I listen really hard then I can sort of hear Laurel. Crappy earbuds on my laptop.
posted by emjaybee at 7:01 AM on May 16


The audio quality on this clip is much better.

Erm, not.

Interestingly enough, the original audio file comes from the vocabulary.com page for "laurel"; here's the direct link to the relevant mp3 - though it seems to me that the tweeted version that is making the rounds is actually a re-recording of a computer playing this original (however: IANASE).
posted by progosk at 7:03 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


progosk FTW. That version does not change into "Yanny" when pitched down, indicating that the recording making the rounds is definitely either processed to emphasize the higher formants or re-recorded through a speaker that essentially did the same thing.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:10 AM on May 16


I heard "Yanny," played quietly on my MacBook's speakers.

I am 45, and for several days in a row I have been listening to the new Frank Turner CD as loud as my old Camry's stereo will play it.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:34 AM on May 16


I'm 65. I hear Yammy.

Some explanation. The word of the day is sonorant.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 7:45 AM on May 16


I focused on the wall beyond the screen and then suddenly it popped out. It's a ship on the ocean.

(A ship called Yanny. I'm an old man with tinnitus listening on tiny tinny PC speakers.)
posted by pracowity at 8:02 AM on May 16


If I close my eyes and change the sounds I focus on I can make it go back and forth. I'm 37 (nearly 38) and left-handed.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:10 AM on May 16


It's Yarry. Like Larry, but with a Y. If you read the word "laurel" while you listen to the pitchshifted distorted "yarry," then you can hear "yarrel." Which, yippee. You poor kids with your yannylaurel. You'll never know the heady fun we all had back in the day of The Dress.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:11 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


On my home laptop, playing through speakers and with the background noise of family conversation, I unambiguously heard Yanny, spoken at a high pitch. On my work laptop, with ear-covering headphones and much less background noise to begin with, I equally unambiguously heard Laurel, spoken at a low pitch.

But the dress was always blue and black.
posted by solotoro at 8:15 AM on May 16


On my home laptop, playing through speakers and with the background noise of family conversation, I unambiguously heard Yanny, spoken at a high pitch. On my work laptop, with ear-covering headphones and much less background noise to begin with, I equally unambiguously heard Laurel, spoken at a low pitch.

I had the same experience. Once I switched to headphones, I heard Yanny at first and then it permanently morphed into Laurel. Bizarre.
posted by neckro23 at 8:20 AM on May 16


Close your eyes and focus on the "au" or "el" in Laurel and it may go back to Yanny for you. It's not just the sonorance, it's where you parse the divide between repetitions.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:25 AM on May 16


60 years old with tinnitus. I hear yanny. At up 30% in pitch I hear both, then only laurel at up 40%.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 8:47 AM on May 16


This is weird. I'm listening at low volume on my laptop. If I bend my head down so my chin touches my chest, I hear "Yanny". If I hold my head up straight, I hear "Laurel". I can switch back and forth just by doing that.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:56 AM on May 16


In-depth by psycholinguist S. J. Styles (via kottke).
posted by progosk at 8:58 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Laurel, through headphones.
Yanny, from a distance or with a crappy phone speaker.
Sokath, his eyes uncovered.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:15 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


tried it on various devices, it's always yanny, i don't even know how people are hearing laurel and can only assume it's some mass delusion.
posted by asteria at 9:17 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I listened on my phone, on my IPad, and on my laptop. I hear Yanny very clearly. I tried to hear Laurel but couldn't. I'm 44.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:26 AM on May 16


We found last night that as you take apart the sound and extract the 'word' that you can't hear, you can hold both in your mind and hear both, as the sound experience is built on prior knowledge
posted by CheapB at 9:41 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


In my 30s and no matter what I try I can only hear "Laurel." I also thought the dress was white and gold.
posted by andrewesque at 9:43 AM on May 16


I heard Yawwie at 1st and when the pitch was raised, then Laurel. I cant find the link that had it replicated at several pitches. Hearing impaired (but no hearing aids at present), standard thinkpad speakers, geezer.
posted by theora55 at 10:05 AM on May 16


I just can't hear the yanny that's supposed to be pitched higher. I only ever get a clear Laurel. Next you guys are going to tell me that the adults in Peanuts cartoons have always been speaking words when all I've ever heard is "waht WAH, waht WAH."
posted by Knowyournuts at 10:20 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


tried it on various devices, it's always yanny, i don't even know how people are hearing laurel and can only assume it's some mass delusion

You should also considered the possibility that you are the subject of a Truman Show-type reality simulation and that we are all paid actors hewing to a pre-written script in order to cause you stress and elicit befuddled reactions for the viewing pleasure of a mass TV audience.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:20 AM on May 16


What troubles me about this (and the dress, and the shoe) is that, despite there being a clear, unambiguous answer to the debate at hand, people completely ignore and/or dismiss that truth in favor of what they are perceiving. This is completely unlike purposeful optical illusions which are designed to confound and contain multiple truths. This is people not being able to adjust for things like EQ curves, over-exposure or bad white balance, and what's worse, not accepting the truth when it is plainly presented. The examples themselves are benign and meaningless, but they scare me in the way they clearly demonstrate that, when it comes to truth, people are very easily misled and highly resistant to being corrected.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:31 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


So I'm in a bathroom in Starbucks (no judging!) and I played it full-volume from my phone (it's an S5 with the speaker in the back). If I have the speaker away from me it's full-on Yanny, but if I turn the phone with the speaker facing me it's clearly Laurel. If I turn the phone half-way it's a combination of both.
posted by littlesq at 10:40 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]




ARGH WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON

I listened to this earlier on the laptop speakers and DEFINITELY heard "yanny", over and over again. I just tried it with good headphones on and it was "laurel". It is no longer "yanny" on the laptop speakers.
posted by loquacious at 10:48 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


OK, I just waited a while and heard "yanny" and "yarry" again, then left it playing and plugged in my headphones and it's immediately and clearly "laurel" and it freaked me out so bad I winced, tore off the headphones and had to resist throwing them across the room.

This is a memetic virus, isn't it, and I just got infected, right? If I start seeing static and some Filipino-American dude with katanas shows up I'm out. This game of Roy: A Life Well Lived is getting too weird.
posted by loquacious at 11:02 AM on May 16


I just can't hear the yanny that's supposed to be pitched higher.

FWIW if you scroll down in the second link, you'll see someone posted a tweet with several selected pitch-shifts. And while my hearing of "Yanny" was in a higher register when I heard it that way, using the headphones in which I instead heard "Laurel" from the original, my interpretation reverts to "Yanny" on the 30% down shift, and then it's in a (very) low voice. (All other shifts, I hear "Laurel".)
posted by solotoro at 11:07 AM on May 16


So two questions (maybe three): (1) who made this and how; and (2) were they going for Laurel and Hardy but just couldn't quite get it to work?
posted by rtimmel at 11:09 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


(1) who made this and how

It seems the discrepancy was originally heard by redditor RolandCamry's sister, so he's presumably the original recorder of the soundbite that is making the twitter-rounds.
posted by progosk at 11:15 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


"Throatwarbler Mangrove"

No, kidding. I'm a Laurel. 51 years old, decent headphones.
posted by davelog at 11:20 AM on May 16


I cant find the link that had it replicated at several pitches.

WCityMike linked the tweet upthread; the repitched audio files linked there are:
- down 30%
- down 20%
- up 20%
- up 30%
- up 40%
posted by progosk at 11:22 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


> urbanwhaleshark:
"No-one else thinks that the results of this are being piped into the AI that will eventually take over our lives?"

To create political destabilization and eventual civil war?
posted by Samizdata at 11:24 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Listening to this on headphones ... if I shape my mouth and tongue as if I'm saying "yanny", I predominantly hear "yanny", and if I shape them as "laurel", then I predominantly hear "laurel". Both sounds are there at the same time, it is just which one I concentrate on that I hear the most.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:35 AM on May 16


> Don Pepino:
"It's Yarry. Like Larry, but with a Y. If you read the word "laurel" while you listen to the pitchshifted distorted "yarry," then you can hear "yarrel." Which, yippee. You poor kids with your yannylaurel. You'll never know the heady fun we all had back in the day of The Dress."

Chandler Yarrel?
posted by Samizdata at 11:37 AM on May 16




This is really weird. I've been hearing Yanny every time I've listened. However, my air conditioner paused for a bit (it's a wall unit on energy saver mode) and now I hear Laurel very clearly.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:43 AM on May 16


This morning, same speakers, Laurel. Only Laurel.
posted by mochapickle at 11:44 AM on May 16


This is really weird. I've been hearing Yanny every time I've listened. However, my air conditioner paused for a bit (it's a wall unit on energy saver mode) and now I hear Laurel very clearly.

My guess is that the AC rumble is drowning out all the low end sound, leaving the high-frequency "Yanny" a clear path to your ears. Once the interference from the AC goes away, "Laurel" again becomes the dominant sound.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:50 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Wait, so are there two recordings combined on top of one another - one word said in low frequency, and one in high-frequency - or is it just one voice and it just sounds different at different pitches. If the latter, can you record other words and have it sound differently depending on the pitch?
posted by littlesq at 11:56 AM on May 16


Just played it for my daughter and her friend who haven't heard about it before, they were both Yanny, and now see the whole thing as further proof that I am crazy.
posted by mumimor at 12:04 PM on May 16


so are there two recordings combined on top of one another - one word said in low frequency, and one in high-frequency - or is it just one voice and it just sounds different at different pitches.

It's one recording (or rather, re-recording) of a generated voice, and there seems to be some unplanned formant-based frequency-division multiplexing going on (see above for details). The ambivalent result being that in different ambient conditions and at different pitches it gives rise to competing heard words.
posted by progosk at 12:07 PM on May 16


45, Yamaha MSP5: yanny. With volume cranked way up: both simultaneously.
Only the pitched-up ones are clear laurels.
posted by farlukar at 12:12 PM on May 16


It seems the discrepancy was originally heard by redditor RolandCamry's sister, so he's presumably the original recorder of the soundbite that is making the twitter-rounds.

Almost immediately after asking here about where it came from, I got one of those endless emails from Wired featuring the answer to the question. The answer according to the article is that a Katie Hetzel from Flowery Branch High School found the audio clip on Vocabulary.com's page for laurel. All of this is obviously BS, especially given that the Vocabulary.com version is definitely "laurel, not "yanny." To compound matters, they say the recording was made from some opera singer from Cats.

Don't they understand that sometimes you have to undersell your lies? So, bottom line, no one knows where it comes from and they are working very hard to make sure no one ever does.
posted by rtimmel at 1:05 PM on May 16


(rtimmel, maybe my ear for irony's off, but... that looks like a pretty well-sourced backstory to the redditor's simplified version; I was actually doubting the original recording was a computer-generated voice, given the quality pronunciation.)
posted by progosk at 1:19 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


I infuriatingly can hear both at the same time, or maybe my brain just switches partway through.

The key to 'Laurel' for me was the fact that to my ears it sounded like a slurred 'lurrrahl' which is not at all how I pronounced it. Mostly it ended up kind of slurring into 'yuhrral' but yanny came through as well. Car speakers, headphones on phone and computer.

Anyway I could see the dress both ways, too. 33 years old.
posted by nogoodverybad at 1:25 PM on May 16


Laurel. I'm almost 46, listening at a desktop computer with headphones. I don't have a smartphone so can't try that; may try my home computer vs. my work computer.
posted by dlugoczaj at 1:48 PM on May 16


This morning in my car I very clearly heard "Yanny". Then after lunch it was "Laurel". Then now I am hearing both at the same time.
33, office job / musician, was deaf at an early age.
posted by hillabeans at 2:14 PM on May 16


The NYTimes has a tool to change the pitch.
posted by theora55 at 2:17 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Progost - your ear (or more likely my voice) for irony is off - I agree that it is a well supported piece. Although, I must admit that the Vocalbulary.com audio clip sounds completely different than the others and is unequivocally (to my ear) "laurel." I would have thought that they changed it, but the link to the recorders other clips is clearly the same voice. so its likely the original. Maybe the reddit/twitter bunch repitched it for maximum confusion.
posted by rtimmel at 2:19 PM on May 16


Yanny on both Apple earbuds and Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. Repeated listens to be sure, no idea how you can hear anything else. 51, tinnitus, ears pummeled early and often, and never quite the same after that Ministry/Revolting Cocks show back in 1990.
posted by bassomatic at 2:28 PM on May 16


Nobody re-pitched it. It is just a cellphone recording of that vocabulary.com clip playing out of a laptop or something. So you have the EQ curve of the laptop speaker, the low-frequency loss due to proximity effect and the EQ curve of the cellphone mic all converging to emphasize the high frequency formant and de-emphasize the low-frequency formant. I concur with the analysis that progost linked to.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:32 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


I just played this at work. No one had heard about this phenomenon yet, nor did I tell them the two words, and people held their answers till the end. The age/gender predictions are turned on their heads. The prediction is that younger people and females will hear the higher frequency. But no. One difference seems to be that the Laurel people hear Laurel very clearly, but the Yanny people aren't sure what word they are hearing. [Maybe this is because laurel is actually a word, and our brains are primed to make sense of it, while yanny isn't, and those folks' brains try to superimpose a word if they don't see the two choices ahead of time.]

70ish female with some hearing loss: yanny (yarry)
35ish male: yanny? (mary)
25ish female: laurel
45ish female: laurel
50ish male: yanny? (mary)
posted by Knowyournuts at 2:46 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


It's Laurel. Using the NYT pitch changer just makes it sound like some kind of Star Wars swamp frog. 39M. What the hell. This is why humankind isn't fucking getting anywhere, because of bullshit like this. "I say potato Laurel, you say potato Yanny"? HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO SAVE THE GREAT BARRIER REEF WHEN YOU DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND WORD-SOUNDS?
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:41 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO SAVE THE GREAT BARRIER yanny REEF

FTFY.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:45 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Woman: Idea idea great new idea
Mansplainer: How about idea idea great new idea?
Woman: I just said that.
Mansplainer: Oh, sorry, I literally can't hear your voice. #Laurel
posted by Knowyournuts at 4:04 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]


surely the great laurel reef?
posted by asteria at 4:05 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


It is my privilege to extend you a Laurel... and Yanny handshake.
posted by CheapB at 4:21 PM on May 16


No. I am North Korea's intransigent Laurel to your meek and fearful South Korean Yanny.
posted by turbid dahlia at 4:29 PM on May 16


Unambiguously Laurel. When I listen to the slowest version, I can kinda make out "Yorrie" but it's mostly just garbled. In no universe do I get Yanny. 34 yo.
posted by alspacka at 4:58 PM on May 16


All you Laurel people need to get your ears checked!
posted by rhizome at 5:19 PM on May 16




40, female, musician, always "Laurel" on okay computer headphones and phone speakers. On the gaming headset I plugged into my phone, I can hear a fainnnnnt echo "Yanny" but it's clearly coming after the "Laurel," not simultaneously. If there's a high frequency Yanny overlaying the low frequency Laurel, it must be pitched at something above 16 kHz, because that's where my hearing starts to go. But given all the people older than me who had Yanny, I suspect that isn't the case.

What I cannot unhear is the consonant "L" starting and ending the word, actually, and that's very likely why I can't make myself switch. My native language is Turkish. I wonder if that had something to do with it.
posted by seyirci at 7:07 PM on May 16


“Yanny or Laurel? We Ask the Experts...”— Rick Beato, 16 May 2018

P.S. As I noted earlier, playing on my own computer I hear laurel. The clip plays repeatedly in the above video and I hear only yanny.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:24 PM on May 16


When I heard this on Twitter, I heard "Yanny". When I heard a separate version on Tumblr that seemed to be at a lower quality, I heard "Laurel". Both were very clear with no ambiguity.

The dress fight has worn me down; I'm not surprised at anything anymore.
posted by lesser weasel at 12:07 AM on May 17


I'm 37; I hear both and can switch between them at will, but the word sounds like it starts more "Yanny" and ends more "Laurel". When I first encountered this thing in the wild, I didn't realize it was a blue-black/white-gold dress thing, i.e., that people could only hear it one way. I thought it was more, like, which do you hear first or most easily. Like the optical illusion of the spinning dancer.

My mother, 66, hears only Yanny and says she can't hear any L sounds at all. My father, 75, hears only Laurel, which he describes as "a very pleasant man's voice." And now, with this thread, I realized that I have been misunderstanding the phenomenon the whole time.

My SO, to date, refuses to answer the question.
posted by penduluum at 5:14 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


I ran the sound through a lowpass filter with various cutoff frequencies, for me it switches from one to the other in the whereabouts of 3.5­ kHz. Then again, there's hardly any signal above 4 kHz anyway.

For the laurel-hearers: this is the thing through a highpass filter @ 1800 Hz, does that make a difference?
posted by farlukar at 6:41 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]


Finally, Marlee Matlin weighs in on the controversy.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:28 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


If you are using a headset (this is easier using just one side rather than both ears), trying playing with the position of it. I get "Laurel" with a cheap in-ear headset seated well in my ear and "Yanny" if it is loose or if I pull it away from my ear. Which makes sense since the bass is better with the earphone pushed in, but it's an easy thing to play with.
posted by exogenous at 8:36 AM on May 17


Yanny.

My specs: Age 53.

Narrow ear canals; some issues with earwax buildup.

Plantronics headphones.

27-inch late 2012 iMac.
posted by virago at 9:14 AM on May 17


PS: With the same equipment but at a higher pitch, I heard "Laurel," per this Steve Pomeroy tweet referenced in the second link in the OP.
posted by virago at 9:20 AM on May 17


I hear both.
posted by complaina at 9:45 AM on May 17


Only a matter of time before someone weaponizes this using the brown note
posted by kurumi at 9:55 AM on May 17 [2 favorites]


Only a matter of time before someone weaponizes this using the brown note

It makes some people poop their pants, but other people just pee their pants. Equalized to the middle frequencies, it does both!
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:07 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]




There's a little toy that plays back some badly sampled speech (reddit).
Listening to it you can hear it say either BRAINSTORM or GREEN NEEDLE -- depending on which you are listening for at the time..
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:36 PM on May 17 [1 favorite]


I get either GREEN NEEDLE or BRAIN NEEDLE but can't for the life of me hear BRAIN (or NEEDLE) STORM.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:51 PM on May 17


I hear neither. Just something that screeches "EE-oh-lee" like a dying plant.
posted by CancerMan at 5:48 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]


For comparison, can you link an audio sample of the sounds a dying plant makes?
posted by mwhybark at 6:24 PM on May 17 [5 favorites]


that thing does not say "needle!" Who hears "needle?" There's no "s" in needle, and that thing is sibilant all up in my ears. What the hell? What the hell?
posted by Don Pepino at 8:24 AM on May 18


Right after I typed that I went back and it was "needle" and I've replayed it fifty times and I can't hear "storm." What. The. Hell.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:32 AM on May 18


For green needle / brainstorm I can control what I hear by thinking about which one I want it to be first, but on Laurel / Yanny it's more sticky, and will just go on being one of them ... until suddenly it's the other.
posted by taz at 11:03 AM on May 18


I, too, can now control the needlestorm.
GREEE NEE DUL
BRAAAINSTOARM
I think it may be better than the dress.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:40 AM on May 18




A mix of both.
The dress is #6a6259 and #7f8eae.
posted by signal at 5:28 PM on May 20


I live on Laurel St and just tacked up a handmade cardboard Yanny sign on the telephone pole by the street sign. I think the neighborhood is working on having one on every block.
posted by umbú at 9:32 AM on May 21 [7 favorites]


Creaky voice Yanny. I don't know how you guys can possibly hear "Laurel." It's obviously Yanny.

And FWIW, I'm 32 and female.
posted by Delia at 9:14 AM on May 28


Male, 56, crappy computer speakers, Yanny only. With an equalizer and all the high frequencies turned right down, Laurel only.

Also still able to hear the 15625Hz line-rate squeal from a CRT TV operating anywhere inside the house.
posted by flabdablet at 10:20 PM on May 29 [3 favorites]


why would someone record the word "yanny"?
posted by eustatic at 7:08 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


I keep thinking that Yanni and Laurel should do a quick cash-in concert together.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:34 PM on June 6


What do you hear? Guangzhou or Cuba?
posted by flabdablet at 8:13 PM on June 6


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