Do you hear Laurel or Yanny? It's Christmas for audio nerds

The answer will shock and amaze you — or at least settle an ill-advised bet.

We settle the question: It's all about the audio frequencies

Yiannis Chryssomallis — a.k.a. Yanni — the Greek composer, keyboardist, pianist and music producer is not the Yanny you think you're hearing. (Amer Hilabi/AFB/Getty Images)

In the great internet debate between did you hear Yanny or Laurel, there's only one clear answer.

It's Laurel.

Click on the blue play button and have a listen.

It pains me to say this because I was Team Yanny.

I couldn't hear anything else until CBC Radio sound producer Lee Rosevere pointed out the science behind one of the most divisive debates of ...  er ... this week.

"This is like Christmas for audio nerds," Rosevere said on CBC's The Early Edition.

Rosevere says different frequencies bring out different sounds of the word.

"If you [remove] all the high frequencies and you just get the low frequencies, you hear Laurel," he said.

"If you highlight the high frequencies you get Yanny."

This is like Christmas for audio nerds- CBC Radio sound producer Lee Rosevere

The important piece of the puzzle, Rosevere said, is the quality of the clip.

Because the piece was posted online from somebody who recorded it from a phone or another low quality recorder, compression introduces newer — usually higher — frequencies until it sounds like a completely new word.

That's where Yanny come from.

If you go back to the original source, which is a vocabulary site, the clip is clearly Laurel.

Other factors

The age of the listener also makes a difference.

Older adults don't hear high frequencies as well as younger people which is why they are able to pick up Laurel and not Yanny.

Remember this annoying high-pitched alarm in Yaletown meant to deter young people from loitering? It's like that.

It also depends on what you're listening to the clip on.

Pristine studio headphones will give you a Laurel, while a tinny 2015-era cell phone is probably going to give you Yanny.

Listen to Lee Rosevere explain the phenomenon:

Audio nerd Lee Rosevere speaks with All Points West host Jason D'Souza about the whole Laurel vs Yanny battle and possibly why everyone is hearing it differently. 5:40

So for all you die-hard Laurels, fine, go ahead and rest on them. You were kind of right.

About the Author

Roshini Nair

Roshini Nair is a writer for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at roshini.nair@cbc.ca.