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Vinyl as fine wine: the role of expectation on the perception of music format

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expectation, music, vinyl records, digital music, sound quality

Abstract (summary)

While vinyl, compact discs, and even eight-track tapes were traditionally promoted to consumers as producing superior sound, the introduction of compressed digital music, such as mp3s, was markedly different. Initially, one of the primary selling features of digital music was convenience and portability rather than sound quality. Recently, vinyl music sales have experienced a substantial resurgence. Waveforms from vinyl represent recorded music more accurately than compressed digital formats and have the potential to produce better sound. Even so, most music listeners do not reliably listen to music on audiophile quality high-end equipment. For this reason, we believe one aspect of vinyl sales is the expectation that vinyl quality is superior. In this study, we sought to isolate the contribution of expectation to perceived sound quality. Participants were asked to listen to a selection of music on either vinyl or mp3. Some participants were told that they were listening to vinyl when the musical selection was an mp3, while others were told they were listening to an mp3 while actually listening to vinyl. A multivariate analysis through a Canonical Correlation Analysis established that expectation of music format quality drove post-listening evaluations.

Publication Information

Enstroem, R. and Schmaltz, R. (2022). Vinyl as Fine Wine: The Role of Expectation on the Perception of Music Format. Frontiers in Psychology: Human-Media Interaction,


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Attribution (CC BY)