Erik Sikkema

World Class Pipe-organ Recordings - Ultra Linear Stereo Image


During my studies as a guitar major at the Sweelinck Conservatorium, Amsterdam, I came in contact with people from NOS (Dutch Broadcast Corporation). I felt more and more attracted to the profession of recording-engineer, rather than becoming a professional musician. The Royal Conservatory in The Hague started in the same period a four year education in recording-engineering (Muziekregistratie), the first in Holland. In 1983 I completed the qualification test and I was accepted. The curriculum covered recording-engineering, sonology, electronics, acoustics and music-theory. In addition to our technique lectures and music classes, I studied two years guitar followed by two years lute with Mr. Toyohiko Satoh. My graduation recording, Olivier Messiaen's Turangalila Symphony was recorded in Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, in the presence of the composer.

Already before finishing my studies in The Hague, I worked as a  free-lance recording engineer. Most of the time I freelanced for Harlekijn Holland, both as engineer and audio-editor. I started to work with world-renowned organist Harald Vogel, professor at the Hochschule für Musik, in Bremen, and we made several recordings in Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the USA. 

At the end of my studies, I was contacted by Jacques van Oortmerssen, professor of organ at the Conservatorium in Amsterdam. With Van Oortmerssen, I produced CD's recorded in Holland, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Both Vogel and Van Oortmerssen were acquainted with another organist Hans Davidsson for whom I recorded a double CD with organ all known organ works by Matthias Weckmann. (1991, Motette DCD 11461) This project served as the creative artistic section of Davidsson's dissertation (PhD) for his studies in Musicology in Göteborg. The organ Davidsson played for the recording project was the Arp Schnitger organ in Norden, Germany. This recording became a best-seller, and is still available today.

I continued to work with more and more international artists throughout Europe. I have become an expert in organ recordings, though I do not see myself specialised in it, since I have done many orchestral and chamber music recordings as well.  I often worked behind the scenes for the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and I made radio-recordings and worked as a sound engineer for TV productions with music. For Sveriges Television I was involved recording Mozart's Requiem with Eric Ericson's Chamber Choir, that was conducted by Eric Ericson, and I assisted with or edited other projects for different companies. I have worked in the USA, Great-Britain, Estland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. My recordings have been released on many labels, including Philips, Erato, Telarc, BIS, Nonesuch, Koch-Schwann, Capriccio, CPO, Fidelio, Finlandia, Musica Sveciae, Proprius, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Organeum, Gothic, Loft, Etcetera, Motette, Astree and others.

Famous artists with whom I have worked include pianist/conductor  Philipe Entremont, conductor/harpsichordist Ton Koopman, violinists Gidon Kremer, Viviane Häggner, baroque violinist Monica Hugget, soprano Emma Kirkby. I also love to work with less famous artists but brilliant musicians. Very known string quartets I worked with are, Quatuor Mosaique, Orlando Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet and Orpheus Quartet.


"Already during his education at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague (Netherlands) he developed a keen interest in the possibilities of making music recordings with measuring microphones, not satisfied with the results obtained with the popular microphones used almost everywhere at that time. "I cannot stand the distortion these mics produce. There’s something terribly wrong in the time domain, and the sound stage is blurred and unclear, like looking through a dirty lens"

That became his lifelong passion, making sure that the sound picture was accurate.

Later that would develop into his acclaimed Ultra Linear Stereo Image (ULSI) recording technique.

He settled as an independent recording engineer/editor and continued experimenting with measurement mics. That was the time when I first met him at an electronics exhibition, where Bruel & Kjaer had a booth. B&K had introduced a series of omnidirectional microphones for recording purposes, based on the well known condenser mics for measuring applications, the core business for B&K. These new mics caused a quiet revolution in the classical recording world, and Erik was quick to see the potential for his own work.

We had many discussions about the characteristics of mics and how the objective and subjective domains (the measurements and what you perceive) were interacting. His analytical mind leads him often to untraditional solutions to old recording problems. His recordings are - without exception - of outstanding quality. They all transfer the feeling of

"being there". He bases his decisions largely on physical quantities, keeping a close eye on how to tackle the whole transfer function of the recording process, not only dealing with the frequency domain, as so many others do, but also taking the time domain into account.

I think it’s about time that his knowledge got more widespread".

Willem van Barneveld

Former managing director Bruel & Kjaer Nederland and former president B&K USA,

Independent consultant (retired)


"During the years I’ve known Erik he has continually impressed me with his knowledge of audio, his skill as a recording engineer and with his ability as an innovator. His recordings are widely recognized for their excellence. He is a regular contributor to professional audio Internet forums where his insight and knowledge are highly regarded. While having been professionally involved in audio production myself for almost four decades, I have often benefited from his experience. ...".

Barry Hufker


Audio Production

Department of Electronic and Photographic Media

Webster University

Saint Louis, USA


"I should like to use this opportunity to express my opinion that Erik Sikkema is one of the finest recording engineers I have ever met and as such one of the best students from the Music Registration program of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. ...".

Stan Tempelaars

MSc, Professor

Former Head of the Art of Sound Program

The Hague, Netherlands