Marty Robbins – Hawaii’s Calling Me – Our Shootout Winner from 2015


A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

Hearing this kind of Tubey Magical, tonally correct, rich, sweet, spacious sound is nothing less than a THRILL. The Analog sound of this pressing makes a mockery of even the most advanced digital playback systems, including the ones that haven’t been invented yet. I’d love to play this for Neil Young so he can see what he’s up against. Good Luck, Neil, you’re going to need it.

We’ve been through dozens of Columbia albums from the ’60s over the last year or two since we discovered how good the Marty Robbins titles on Columbia can sound. Most of the popular vocal and country albums we play have an overall distorted sound, are swimming in reverb, and come with hard, edgy, smeary vocals to boot.

To find an album with freakishly good sound such as this involves a healthy dose of pure luck. You will need to dig through an awful big pile of vinyl to uncover a gem of this beauty.

Side Two

Like any good Elvis or Nat “King” Cole record, the quality that is far and away the most important is that the vocals must be full-bodied, rich and smooth. Without that sound you might as well be playing a CD. This is precisely what side two here gives you – Tubey Magical Richness in spades.

Note that the heavy reverb not only sounds right for this music and this era, but actually sounds great, the very opposite of the hard, sour, metallic digital reverb that replaced it decades later.

Side One

Nearly as good, and nearly the best we heard as no copy earned the full Three Pluses on side one. Clear and huge with very good space, as good as this side sounds you will hear why side two is even better as soon as you flip the record over. Or start with side two to hear the ultimate sound for Hawaii’s Calling Me.

Skip the Mono

Stick with stereo on this title; the monos aren’t worth anybody’s time (scratch that: any audiophile’s time). If you see one for a buck at a garage sale, pick it up for the music, and then be on the lookout for a nice stereo original to enjoy for the sound.

360 Sound

Here is the technical information supplied with the recording. Vintage vinyl fans should get a kick out of it.

Stereo “360 SOUND” represents the ultimate in listening enjoyment. Every aspect of recording activity has been carefully supervised by Columbia’s engineers and craftsmen, using the very latest electronic equipment. Stereo “360 SOUND” creates the effect of surrounding the listener with glorious, true-to-life active sound. It is as if one were sitting in the first row center at an actual performance.

Columbia’s studios have been designed with uniform sound characteristics and are equipped with sixteen-channel consoles and custom-calibrated multi-track tape machines engineered and built to Columbia’s own specifications. The microphones used are chosen for their individual sound properties depending upon the orchestration, the artist and the concept of the producer of the recording. Some of the microphones are: the Sony C37A; Telefunken-Neumann’s U67, U47, M49B, KM54A, KM56; the AKG’s C60, C12 and Electro Voice 655C. Only high-output tape affording maximum signal to noise ratio is used. Such tape, of great tensile strength and thickness, additionally aids in the elimination of print-through and reduction of distortion and hiss.

The reduction of the original multi-track tape to the final master tape is performed on editing consoles hand-tooled by Columbia’s engineering staff to accommodate any number of channels. The transfer of master tape to master lacquer is made via a Westrex or Ortofon cutter installed on a Scully lathe equipped with automatic variable pitch and electronic depth controls. Before production is begun, a master pressing is compared to the final tape (A-B checked). It is only after the recording has passed this critical test that Columbia’s engineers give the final approval for manufacture, secure in the knowledge that each Stereo “360 SOUND” disc will have the same full-bodied, multi-dimensional sound as that originally recorded in the studio.

Further Reading

Other recordings that we have found to be especially Tubey Magical can be found here.

Transparency, the other side of the Tubey Magical coin, is also key to the better pressings of this album as well as many of our other favorite demo discs.

The entries linked here may help you gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding Hot Stampers.

And finally we’ll throw in this old warhorse discussing How to Become an Expert Listener, subtitled Hard Work and Challenges Can Really Pay Off.

Because in audio, much like the rest of life, hard work and challenges really do pay off.