As 'Yanny or Laurel' debate divides Las Vegas, professor explains what you hear


"Laurel or Yanny?"

If you haven’t heard about the debate, you’re either living under a rock or not a fan of social media.

It’s an audio file that’s gone viral online. It had friends and family questioning one another's hearing and sanity.

Dana Wall-Oakley feels strongly she hears Yanny.

“I totally hear Yanny,” she said.

Wall-Oakley even admits her grandmother's name is Laurel. She still hears Yanny.

“Correct,” she said with a laugh.

Her mom Phyllis Wall agrees.

“I hear Yanny! I hear Yanny!” said Phyllis Wall.

Cliff Armoogon casts his vote for Laurel.

“Laurel,” said Cliff Armoogon.

“You hear Laurel? Do you hear Yanny at all?” asked News 3. “No,” he replied.

James wouldn’t give News 3 his last name, but he thinks the whole debate is a joke.

“You're serious?” he asks. “Are we that bad off that we have nothing better to do or what?

“I'm hearing is Laurel. Unless I'm wrong and you got a screwed up phone or something."

RELATED | VOTE: What do you hear? Yanny or Laurel? A new debate is taking over the internet

There are reasons people hear the audio clip differently.

It comes down to the variations in how people perceive sound and the differences in the frequencies your ear picks up.

Brad Story is a professor of speech, language and hearing at the University of Arizona.

“For the word Laurel, the 'L' requires a very high frequency. It then moves and drops for the 'R.' And then it comes back up for the 'L' sound,” Story said.

“It has this kind of U-shape look to it. The word 'Yanny' has a similar U shape to it,” he explained.

Story says he ran an acoustic analysis on the audio because it’s not a high-quality recording.

“Full disclosure: I hear Laurel in my analysis. I'm convinced it is Laurel. But if you perceive Yanny, it doesn't mean you're wrong,” said Story.

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