Yanny Versus Laurel: The Amazing Science Of Hearing

Yanny or Laurel? Which did you hear? The audio clip that has been making the social media rounds has people debating and taking sides. This is similar to the fuss back in 2015 regarding the dress picture. No one could agree if the dress was white and gold or blue and black.



Laurel VS. Yanny: How Did An Audiologist Hear It?

Shelley Borgia, Au.D., a New York City audiologist, heard Yanny at first when initially played it with an iPhone speaker. I could not hear Laurel as my business partner did. Then I plugged in my in-ear monitor, a custom headphone that a lot of musicians use, and I heard Laurel. Now, every time I play, whether on iPhone or the headphones, I can only hear Laurel.


Laurel VS. Yanny: Why The Controversy?

According to Dr. Borgia; Yanny may be more difficult to hear because it is a high frequency, soft raspy whisper. That is more difficult to pick up, in general. High frequency has more treble, so it is not as strong as bass. Younger people do tend to have better high frequency hearing.

Laurel is a stronger, lower-pitched gentleman’s voice. There is more power behind it. It’s a stronger sound, with more bass. More people can hear a strong bass sound better than a strong treble sound.

Whether you listen on a computer, the phone, or through headphones may also affect which you hear.  If you are listening through headphones, you may be more likely to hear Laurel as the headphones block out more ambient sound. It gives you more bass.

The recording has some level of high frequency distortion, so people with better hearing can pick up on that and would hear Yanny not Laurel, or may hear both.

If you have a higher fidelity system, you are more likely to hear Laurel because it cleans out the distortion.


Laurel VS. Yanny: Is This A Good Way To Test Hearing Loss?

It isn’t a good tool to detect hearing loss, says Dr. Borgia. However, if you hear something other than Yanny or Laurel, it may suggest that you have hearing difficulty and you should see a hearing professional. When I presented it to a patient with hearing loss, says Dr. Borgia, he didn’t hear either. He has a high frequency hearing loss, that is treated with hearing devices, but he still has a hearing deficiency.

It also matters which kind of device you play this recording, as frequency bandwidth can change. For example, if the device shifts the bass or treble significantly, it will alter what you hear.




What do you hear? Take The Test!



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