Yanny or laurel — which word did you hear?
It was the million dollar question taking over the internet last week and an amusing conversation dominating workplaces, classrooms and family kitchen tables across the globe.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week and have yet to hear of the “yanny or laurel” debate, it’s a trending topic similar to the 2015 “is this dress blue or gold?,” optical illusion discourse.
Audio ripped of the word “laurel” from vocabulary.com was orginally posted to Reddit posing the question: do you hear “laurel” or “yanny”? Some Redditors were adamant that they only heard the word “laurel,” whereas some claimed they could hear a high-pitched “yanny.”
What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel pic.twitter.com/jvHhCbMc8I
— Cloe Feldman (@CloeCouture) May 15, 2018
When I came upon the dubious recording on Twitter, I heard both “laurel” and “yanny.” Immediately, I became intrigued with how this could happen. Besides age, what other factors could come into play for some to hear “yanny” versus “laurel,” or in my case, someone who could clearly hear both?
Connecting with audio industry expert Danny Aronson and owner of EVEN headphones — which have been dubbed as glasses for your ears — he explains in-depth, the science behind the “yanny-or-laurel” audio and why he’s excited that this topic surrounding the science of sound is being explored.
HipHopDX: Let me just start off and ask the question everybody is dying to know: why do some people hear “laurel” versus “yanny”?
Danny Aronson: It’s such an amazing thing that’s happened around this little audio clip because it’s something that we’ve been talking about for quite awhile now in trying to get people to understand that hearing is not a monolith. Not everybody hears exactly the same at every age. People hear differently and you react differently to different frequencies. Just like nothing in your body is the same as any other person or your eyesight is the same as any other person, your sensitivities to frequencies changes. It changes between people at different ages so it’s a wonderful way for people to really experience, in a way, what really brought this issue home for them, [which is] that they hear differently than other people. It’s just the way your mind perceives frequencies. There’s no correct answer.
HipHopDX: When you say that EVEN headphones are like glasses, they literally are. I never thought of hearing in the same way as I do when I visually see things along with knowing that my vision differs from other people. So in this case, everyone hears differently as well.
Danny Aronson: Exactly. The technology that we do, which we think should be the standard in the industry, needs to be in every audio device from cars to headphones. It should be part of the software that’s in Netflix, for example. You can have your own ear print—a customized experience to the way that you hear. A 15 or 18 year old hearing exactly the same as a 70 year old is frankly, ridiculous. Of course they don’t [hear the same]. You have a lifetime of listening habits, age and a lot of stuff going on there. The issue with hearing is that people associate it with hearing loss and it’s not. You’re just different than anyone else and we can adapt that sound to fix the way you hear.
HipHopDX: Like you said, people aren’t able to hear certain frequencies as they age and I was reading that people who are older may not hear the “yanny.” I know when I was listening to it I heard a faint “yanny” and then the “laurel.”
Danny Aronson: You heard both of them? Wow, you’re in the sweet spot. I hear “laurel,” I don’t hear “yanny” at all. “Yanny” is the more high-frequency with more semblance. So, you have the “ya” and the “ee.” All these semblances are high-frequency, so it’s easier for some to get. It just goes to show that you hear differently. It’s a wonderful, wonderful way to bring that message home. There is a better way to perceive sound, there’s a better way to listen, it just needs to be adapted to the way you listen. You’d never walk around with somebody else’s glasses, right? If you walk around with somebody else’s glasses, you’re like, Oh god, what is that? One of the great things that we do is let people listen to other people’s ear print. The reactions are crazy! Some people will hear one [ear print] and they think the sound is perfect and amazing and then they’ll hear a different person’s and wonder why is there so much bass. The other person doesn’t hear so much bass, so for them it’s perfect.
HipHopDX: Speaking towards EVEN headphones, how do they compare to Monster or Beats By Dre headphones?
Danny Aronson: We blow them out of the park. Listen, it’s not even a comparison. First of all, Beats are $14 headphones sold for $200 bucks. That’s what it cost to make a Beats headphone. There’s zero innovation there. It’s very standard. It’s a fashion accessory that happens to be a headphone. What we do is, introduce science to audio. We are able to take this technology and adapt it. Working with audiologists and working with engineers to actually learn how you hear and then adapt the sound to the way that you hear. It’s easy to do, it takes 90 seconds and you can demo that on our website (weareeven.com). You can hear the difference for yourself.
HipHopDX: Which EVEN product would be best for an avid listener of Hip Hop?
Danny Aronson: We don’t take into consideration of what type of music you like to hear. What we’re saying is: let’s get the baseline straight. Like glasses, it doesn’t matter if you want to look at this type of art or that type of art, that’s your own personal taste. Let’s get the baseline straight so you can enjoy the music that you love in a way, that again, has been proven by science and technology—which is the purpose of science and technology: to improve and make life better for people. I must say, the most gratifying thing for me since starting this company is getting the reviews and reactions from people which are incredible which is “You gave me my music back.” One of our tag lines is “get your music back,” because that’s what people are saying to us. It’s true and it’s an amazing way to experience music.
HipHopDX: I definitely think it’s a neat option for producers, music engineers and maybe people like myself who are constantly listening to music. Or, even people who love watching movies on Netflix.
Danny Aronson: Absolutely! A lot of our users will watch movies with them and even talk on the phone with them. They really enhance your listening experience and it kind of proves that the way you perceive music is because you perceive frequencies differently than other people, which is what the “yanny” and “laurel” audio brings home.
Comment below if you hear “yanny” or “laurel” and discover your ear print over at EVEN Headphones official website here while you’re at it.