Yanny or Laurel?

You may remember the big disagreement that emerged in 2015 over ‘the dress’, a photo of a dress that some people saw as blue and black and others saw as gold and white, and each side could not possibly conceive how anyone could see anything else. (I was in the blue-black camp) Now there is a sound equivalent, where people listening to a sound clip hear the word spoken as either ‘Yanny’ or ‘Laurel’. Test yourself.

Cody Cottier explains what may be going on with the sound version.

Though I definitely believed the dress was not white and gold, this time around I can sympathize with both sides. At first I was ready to take on anyone with the audacity to suggest the clip said “Laurel.” But after listening closer, I found I could toggle between hearing the two words.

It was like I had an angel on one shoulder whispering “Yanny,” and a devil on the other murmuring “Laurel.” I thought I was going insane. But some Twitter theories validate my poor, deceived ears.

It seems both words are present at different frequencies. The robotic voice saying “Yanny” is high-pitched, the one saying Laurel much lower. If you play the clip on a computer at a low frequency, you can isolate the word “Laurel,” and vice versa. This means the word you hear may depend on the device playing the sound.

For the record, I hear it as ‘Yanny’. I cannot hear ‘Laurel’ at all.


  1. Jean says

    It definitely depends on the device on which you’re listening. Yesterday, I saw that on tv and I was hearing Yanny with maybe a hint of Laurel in the background at a different pitch. Today listening to it on the computer, I only hear Laurel at a lower pitch.

  2. johnson catman says

    I am like Jean. I first heard the story on the evening news tonight, and it was clearly “Yanny”. Yet playing the above clip on my computer listening through my headphones, I can only hear “Laurel”. It had me wondering if it was even the same audio.

  3. johnson catman says

    Oh, wow. I just clicked on your “explains” link above. The down 30% and down 20% both say “Yanny” to me, but all three up pitches say “Laurel”. That is just weird. In both cases, it is as clear as day with no hint of the other.

  4. raym says

    I hear the lower-pitched version as “yearly”, and the higher pitched as “laurel”. Oh, and the original also sounds like “laurel” to me. Fascinating.

  5. Mano Singham says

    Ok, this is getting even more weird.

    I tried listening with headphones and now I heard it as Laurel with no hint of Yanny.

    But when I removed the headphones, I still heard it as Laurel. It did not revert to Yanny.

  6. ridana says

    The two down pitches sound like “Yerry” to me. 🙂 All the up pitches are 100% Laurel. At regular playback it switches. I heard Yanny first, then Laurel. Once it was pointed out that both are present, I could differentiate the two in a single playback.

  7. johnson catman says

    Tadas @8:
    That slider in your link is very interesting. I can slide it all the way to “Yanny” then move it slowly back to the left towards “Laurel” and reach a point where I can hear both. If I go just a little further into total “Laurel”, then I have to go back much further to the right, way past the point where I was still hearing “Yanny” while moving the slider left, before I hear “Yanny” again.

  8. machintelligence says

    I fear that my 70 year old ears have lost quite a bit of high end acuity. I hear only laurel, but when the higher frequencies are sufficiently boosted I hear something like yanny.

  9. jrkrideau says

    Finally got around to listening to it . Over the computer speaker I hear “Harry” and with headphones I hear “Mary”.

    I may be an outlier.

  10. Matt G says

    Yanny with both built-in iPad speakers and Apple earbuds. Auditory system and brain both 51 years young. Negligible blood alcohol level.

  11. Matt G says

    Well that was weird. I did the “up 40%” version, and heard Yanny in a dominant sort of way with what could pass for Laurel sort of underneath. The Laurel part reminded me of the voice modification device used in the Eagle’s song Those Shoes. It might be the same thing Peter Frampton used in Do You Feel Like We Do?

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