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‘Yanny’ Versus ‘Laurel’ Debate Is the New ‘What Color Is the Dress?’ Meme

And we might have a definitive answer, thanks to the meme’s creator

Last Updated: May 16, 2018 @ 12:24 PM

It’s the biggest debate of our time — or, at least, the biggest since the great “the dress” debate of 2015.

Is it “Yanny” or is it “Laurel”?

The audio file in question has taken social media by storm, putting countless people at odds over what exactly is being said. You’re probably already tired of your friends sharing the meme on Instagram, which has carried over to Twitter, where popular YouTuber Cloe Feldman has racked up nearly 50,000 retweets after asking her users what they hear.

Unfortunately for Feldman, and everyone else that voted for “Yanny,” it looks like we have an answer. The New York Times tracked the meme back to Roland Szabo, an 18-year-old Georgia high school student. Szabo said he pulled the audio from a vocabulary website for a school project, and it immediately sparked a classroom debate. His friend eventually created an Instagram poll, which took off earlier this week.

The verdict: Szabo told the Times he recorded the original clip from vocabulary.com’s page for “Laurel.

The answer still might not be enough to kill off the debate anytime soon, however. Age and other factors, including the ability to track high frequency sound, also play a roll, one expert told TheWrap.

“The answers you get probably track with the age of the listener,” Professor Todd Richmond, director of advanced prototypes at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, told TheWrap. “The ‘Yanny’ sound is more in the high frequency range. and the older you get, the more you lose your high frequency response in your hearing.”

Richmond added: “It’s an interesting example of how people’s ears are different, and that your hearing changes over time, with the most common thing being that is, as people age, they lose high frequency response.”

And what was the professor’s vote?”I heard Laurel,” said Professor Richmond. “I didn’t hear ‘Yanny’ at all.”

One thing that everyone can agree on is that this is the most hotly-contested meme since “The Dress,” where people were split on whether it was a gold or blue hue. The designer, Roman Originals, eventually confirmed the dress was indeed blue-and-black.