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Laurel or Yanny? What you hear could depend on hearing loss

Related Story: Dress social media sensation flips views on colours

Do you hear "Laurel" or "Yanny"? An expert says your answer could depend on your level of hearing loss.

A four-second audio clip of a computer-generated voice saying a word has divided the internet.

External Link: Cloe Feldman tweet: What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel

The debate, which has been compared to a dispute over the colour of a dress in 2015, had some insisting they heard "Laurel".

External Link: Ellen tweet: Literally everything at my show just stopped to see if people hear Laurel or Yanny. I hear Laurel. External Link: Ted Berg tweet: The thing definitely says Laurel, there's no way anyone could hear that as Yanny, anyone who says they do is lying for shock value, the end, gfy

Others said it was definitely "Yanny".

External Link: Stephen King tweet: Its Yanny. External Link: Yanni tweet: I only hear Yanni ? hahaha

Meanwhile, some could hear both.

External Link: Franky Ritz tweet: RIP Me – I hear both Yanny and Laurel now.

If Google searches were anything to go by, "Laurel" was winning.

External Link: GoogleTrends tweet: #laurel is ahead of #yanny in search today

'Part of this has to do with hearing loss'

Some people went as far as adjusting audio levels to try to get to the bottom of it, with some pointing out it could have to do with whether you can hear high frequencies.

External Link: Dylan Bennett tweet: Okay, you're not crazy. If you can hear high freqs, you probably hear "yanny", but you *might* hear "laurel". If you can't hear high freqs, you probably hear laurel. Here's what it sounds like without high/low freqs. RT so we can avoid the whole dress situation External Link: Steve Pomeroy tweet: Ok, so if you pitch-shift it you can hear different things

Audiologist Dr Bill Vass told ABC Canberra it could be like a high-pitched mosquito ringtone school students use, which can usually only be heard by people under 25 years old — making it inaudible to many teachers.

"Part of this has got to do with some hearing loss associated with as you get older, that's going to certainly affect the high frequency more than the low frequency," Dr Vass said.

But he said it was also more difficult to determine the word in this particular recording because it is "not real speech".

"We're not listening to an actual speaker — we're listening to manipulated speech, and that is a bit harder," he said.

But failing those theories, he said it "could just be a big internet hoax".

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