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Yanny versus Laurel

Yanny versus Laurel
(Image credit: Cloe Feldman)

It's the audio clip taking over social media—is it Yanny or is it Laurel? We got to the bottom of it with Danny Aronson, CEO of EVEN, the company creating headphones known as "glasses for your ears."

"For starters, what you hear depends on which frequencies your brain emphasizes," said Aronson. "In a noisy recording, there are lots of different frequencies captured. Higher frequency sounds in the recording make people hear Yanny, whereas lower frequencies cause others to hear Laurel."

Why is it different for some than others? Well, it has to do with your age, according to Aronson. "Older adults often start losing their hearing within the higher-frequency range, meaning it's possible that more young people hear Yanny."

Age isn't the only factor impacting audio—there are also other technical factors at play. "What you hear might have to do with your speakers, headphones, or the acoustics in the room," concluded Aronson. "There's also the question of what platform you heard the recording on first—the differences in the audio could have something to do with how Twitter or Instagram compresses video files."

"The Yanny versus Laurel kerfuffle is wonderful," added Margot Douaihy, writer, educator, and editor-at-large of AV Technology. "This debate reminds us that there is room for interpretation within the science of audio. There is so much we know and can measure, but hearing is a personal experience. Context matters."

What did you hear, #AVTweeps? For the record, I heard Yanny.

Megan A. Dutta
Megan A. Dutta is the content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta puts her passion for the audiovisual industry on each and every page, whether print or digital. Prior to Future U.S., Dutta was the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. In this role, Dutta was an active supporter of the AVIXA's InfoComm Exhibitor Steering Committee; she chaired the committee for the 2017 show, a prestigious honor that allowed her to provide leadership and support to both the InfoComm tradeshow and its exhibitors. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.