24 May 2018

You cannot trust your ears, and we can prove it

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You cannot trust your ears, and we can prove it Shutterstock

Never mind Yanny or Laurel, this sound experiment is truly mind bending!

The internet is currently obsessed with one of those rather tedious internet memes, following on from “Is this a blue/black or white/gold dress”, this time it’s ”Can you hear Yanny or Laurel?”

But this latest meme goes one better.

The sound it makes is either ‘Brainstorm’ or ‘Green Needle’, depending on what you believe it will say. Just change your expectation and the audio will actually sound different. Really.

Try it. It works. And it is repeatable. And mind-blowing.

But what is this doing on RedShark? I think it is worth taking into account with any discussion of Hi-Fi, whether it is analogue versus digital or whether expensive DACS or cables make any difference, we simply cannot believe our ears. If just changing our expectations changes – literally – the words we hear, how can we think any of our perceptions of changes in audio quality are really objective?

Because what we hear, is – subjectively– undeniably different but – objectively– undeniably the same. So those £1000 interconnect cables or that £35 plug fuse will, maybe, subjectively and undeniably make your system sound better when, objectively, it is doing nothing at all.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.


Roland Denning

Roland Denning is an independent filmmaker and writer based in London. He was a lighting cameraman/ documentary cameraman for two decades, shooting everything from feature drama to rock promos. He still shoots when he can't afford to employ anyone else. His satirical novel, The Beach Beneath The Pavement was published in 2011.

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