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On Tuesday, social media influencer and vlogger Cloe Feldman posed the following question on Twitter and Instagram: “What do you hear? Yanny or Laurel.” The internet then lost its damn mind in a fight over which word the computerized voice is saying (although it’s definitely “Laurel”).
What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel pic.twitter.com/jvHhCbMc8I
— Cloe Feldman (@CloeCouture) May 15, 2018
Select All reported that the Instagram poll also ended up on Reddit, but whatever its origins, the audio clip has already inspired memes, prompted workplace debates, and brought forth theories about why some people insist they hear “Yanny” while others will die by “Laurel.”
Does anyone hear both yanny and laurel? pic.twitter.com/lSxgohjt81
— Jynjo (@jynjo) May 15, 2018
I hear Yanny. Weird that so many of you hear your neighbor’s dog Sam telling you to commit an act of political violence in order to impress a young Jodie Foster
— essential consultant 😉 (@morninggloria) May 15, 2018
I'm waiting for the BuzzFeed quiz asking me if I'm more of a Laurel or Yanny
— Candace Lowry (@TheCandaceLowry) May 15, 2018
Yanny & Laurel sounds like a quirky indie movie where two sisters — one responsible; one a free spirit — take a road trip with the urn holding their father's ashes.
— Elizabeth Hackett (@LizHackett) May 15, 2018
One Redditor’s theory is that the word you hear depends on the amount of bass you hear in the device you’re listening on, Select All reported. This has to do with something called the equal-loudness contour.
“If you turn the volume very low, there will be practically no bass and you will hear Yanny,” user juuular writes. “Turn the volume up and play it on some speakers that have actual bass response (aka not your phone) and you will hear Laurel.”
Some people have generously manipulated the audio to change what word you’ll hear.
you can hear both when you adjust the bass levels: pic.twitter.com/22boppUJS1
— Earth Vessel Quotes (@earthvessquotes) May 15, 2018
Ok, so if you pitch-shift it you can hear different things:
— Steve Pomeroy (@xxv) May 15, 2018
I'm playing with the audio in Audacity so I can hear both Laurel and Yanny because I'm a normal person with a normal brain
— Russell Steinberg (@Russ_Steinberg) May 15, 2018
The whole debate is a reminder that the internet is an amazing place. Where else can you switch “Yanny” or “Laurel” teams—even just for a moment?
H/T Select All
Kris Seavers is the Evening Editor for the Daily Dot, where she covers breaking news, politics, and LGBTQ issues. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.