Late Monday night, a tweet was posted by with a short audio-clip and people went nuts about it. Why? Because some were sure they heard “Laurel” while others were convinced that it said “Yanni”. How can that be? The answer is really simple actually …
First – you’re right. Whatever you think you recognized – “Laurel” or “Yanni” .. you’re both correct. Is that possible? It sure is. Let me show you ..
This is what “Laurel” looks like. Before you click to listen – make sure you have real loudspeakers or high quality headphones. Because if you don’t, if you listen to it on your phone or if you are otherwise technologically challenged, you may not be able to hear “Laurel”. I ran in on our sound environment and everybody here – without any doubt – recognized it as “Laurel”. Try yourself:
If you are not hearing “Laurel” – you either have a bad audio environment, you can’t recognize low(er) frequencies or your brain is wired to “click” in to the higher frequency spectrum. Because in order to make “Yanni” from “Laurel”, we have to do a little equalizer magic.
This is the the curve of equalization necessary to convert “Laurel” to “Yanni”:
We reduced everything below 3Khz and amplified everything above 3Khz. This results in the following digital representation.
Looks almost the same, but not quite. According to linguists, both “Laurel” and “Yanni” have the same vocal prints or patterns – so we aren’t able to tell “Yanni” from “Laurel” by looking at the wave form. However – by looking at the spectrogram, we clearly see where “Laurel” and “Yanni” are hiding:
In other words: If your technology doesn’t reproduce the lower frequencies (correctly) or if your brain favors higher frequencies, you are more likely to hear “Yanni”. But now – without further delay, let’s get “Yanni” out of the bottle. At least for those of us who need the help.
Unfortunately, because of modern compression technologies, it’s not that easy to get this file to play in a web-browser. You may have to crank up the volume. But here you go ..
Because the mp3 audio representation is not good, here are both audios as WAV files to play around on your own.
Finally – there have been media reports that “Alexa” or “Google Home” devices may react to certain sounds unnoticeable by “normal” human ears. Well – maybe that’s the way they do it.
Signing off ..