General

Laurel in one ear, Yanny out the other

A controversial sound recording posted on Instagram has taken the world by storm just like the “blue dress” photograph that went viral in 2015.

The four second, computer-generated voice has divided opinions over whether the male speaker says “Yanny” or “Laurel.”

What can you hear?

Doug Hampton, sound engineer at Hamdon Sound Studio in West Leederville, says it’s all in the ears of the beholder.

“It’s all about your perception,” he says.

“People’s perception and reactions are all different.”

Mr Hampton says people are tuned to hear in a stereophonic format, due to human ears being positioned on either side of their head, so sound is collected from opposite directions.

“We are not monophonic, we are stereophonic,” he says.

“We have a left and right output.”

There are many tricks around this word sensation turned social media phenomenon.

Expressions can sound similar to one another or be hard to understand and factors such as age, group and gender also contribute to the sound that’s heard.

The possibilities are endless behind the mechanics of “Yanny” and “Laurel”, including possible manipulation of the original recording.

“If you play the two clips together, or trim the front and back, they will turn into another word,” Mr Hampton says.

“If the word was reversed, or the lower frequency or higher register lifted or reduced.”

Mr Hampton compares sound vibrations to the First World War.

“They used Morse Code which had different sounds,” he says.

“People’s perceptions could pick up different things, whether it be faster or slower.”

The two words sound nothing alike … could this just be another internet hoax?