Solution: Magic Ear


Author: Kagami

This puzzle is meant to be a ‘sensory’ play on Magic Eye images. Magic Eye illusions involve manipulating a repeating pattern to hide a secret image. Thematically, this puzzle does something similar with audio, thus the name Magic Ear.

Teams are presented with eleven audio files. Each audio file is exactly 125 seconds long and is composed of the same twenty-five-second audio clip repeated 5 times. The first 25-second segment is an excerpt from a song. Each subsequent repetition is that same song clip with some buzzing overlaid on top. We can start by identifying each of the songs. The first words of these song titles reveal the clue phrase SUBTRACT TWENTY-FIVE SECOND SHIFT CREATE PNG AT DIRECT MUSIC DOT MESUBTRACT TWENTY-FIVE SECOND SHIFT CREATE PNG AT DIRECT MUSIC DOT ME.

Using this phrase and the flavor text, teams are now expected to generate a 100-second audio file by taking the difference between the first 100 seconds (0:00 to 1:40) and the last 100 seconds (0:25 to 2:05). This can be done in Audacity by trimming two copies of the audio file to the correct intervals, inverting one, and then mixing them. The remaining audio file will be 100 seconds of buzzing.

The next step is to turn this audio file into an image file. The clue phrase points you to an online tool that converts wav files into png files. Plugging your buzzing audio clip into this website will produce an image that looks like the same base image repeated many times. These images are Magic Eye illusions that are hiding a clue to the final step. If you struggle to visually decipher Magic Eye images there are many websites that will extract the hidden picture for you.

Each of these hidden images clues a word or phrase that when prepended with the word “Magic” is the title of a song. (We’ve gone full circle from audio to visual back to audio.) These songs contain lyrics that match the blanks given in the original puzzle. If you fill in all of the blanks, the first letters of the words spell the final answer, KRIS KRINGLE.

Original SongMagic Eye ImageExtracted ImageClue Word/Phrase"Magic" SongMissing Lyric
Subtract You by ZebraheadlinklinkFINGERSMagic Fingers by Frank ZappaKAPOK infested
Twenty-Five Miles by Edwin StarrlinklinkSTICKMagic Stick by Lil’ KimRAKIM made hits
Second Hand News by Fleetwood MaclinklinkBUSMagic Bus by The WhoINSPECTOR have no fear
Shift by Grizzly BearlinklinkCHICKENMagic Chicken by The Aquabatsdrinking SNAPPLE
Create in Me a Clean Heart by Keith GreenlinklinkTO DOMagic To Do by Stephen SchwartzKINGS and things
PNG by Kali-D x KronoslinklinkCARPET RIDEMagic Carpet Ride by SteppenwolfRIGHT between
At Last by Etta JameslinklinkMANMagic Man by Heartplayed INSIDE
Direct Address by Lucy DacuslinklinkDANCEMagic Dance by David BowieNOBODY knew
Music by The CoverbeatslinklinkPIEMagic Pie by Oasisan extraordinary GUY
Dot by Destiny’s ChildlinklinkROADMagic Road by Al GreenLOSE control
Me and My Broken Heart by RixtonlinklinkHOURMagic Hour by Jhené AikoEVERYTHING’s beautiful here

Author’s Notes

The idea for this puzzle started with bats at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the notion of asking solvers to perform echolocation. The technical requirements to do so are a little beyond the scope of Huntinality 2.0, however. One component that could be retained is the idea of subtracting offsets in audio, which called to mind old Magic Eye puzzles. From there, and after a few iterations, we ended up with the puzzle in its current form, which can be solved using Audacity and online tools.

For converting a wav into a png, we’ve pointed to a tool created by DJ Joseph Lyncheski, aka Direct. Originally it was more difficult to find and might have required a longer clue phrase. We contacted Direct directly, and he graciously added the link to the tool to his front page, which was a big help to us. Thanks Direct!