Laurel v Yanny: GCRS sound expert explains why we hear differently

Whether you definitely heard one or thought you heard both, the Yanny vs Laurel debate need not get anymore heated as – according to Ivor Taylor, co-founder at Soho studio GCRS – there isn’t necessarily a correct translation. 

He told AMI: "The way we hear isn’t as simple as those tiny bones in your ear letting you know what’s going on, it’s got a lot to do with what we’re seeing at the same time, as we’re lip readers by nature. 

"Yanny vs Laurel is a classic case of the brain needing as many clues as it can get, so it can make a best guess as to what was actually said. So when it comes to standalone digital sounds, never-before-heard things become a lot more complicated or difficult.


Hearing something when it’s not in context is often the cause of misunderstanding. If you’re listening to something and know what’s coming up, your mind becomes a little lazy and works on the assumption of what you’re expecting, rather than what it’s actually hearing. 

"Our brains are only really trained to hear one thing at a time – so you wouldn’t be able to hear both ‘Yanny’ and ‘Laurel’ in the same play, but you might alternate what you hear each time you listen. 

"With the soundbite in question, it has been digitally mastered to intentionally confuse the brain’s amazing ability to extract sense from chaos. Whether the source was synthesised or a heavily tweaked, the original recording does not matter. What it does do superbly is show how easily your brain can be confused into making a bad guess. 

"If you want your dialogue to be easily understood then get the best quality recording first time round, work with voice artists who suit your script and give them clear direction in order to get the desired delivery and effect – prevention before a cure is certainly key. 

"Never forget that your brain is always making a best guess as to what is actually going on out there and often gets it wrong.

So the good news is it’s no bad thing to be a Yanny or a Laurel, (so best move onto Green Needle or Brainstorm…)"

Want more stories like this sent straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our free daily newsletter here.