Seeking advice on high kHz annoyance in my system

Some of my go to recordings for testing my system have always been classical piano. I listen for mid-range clarity, the audibility of the “action” of the piano, e.g. hammer and pedal sounds coming through, as well as clarity in upper register.

After recently making substantial changes to my system (see below), I hear (or continue to hear) an artificial or secondary ringing/buzzing (sorry, not a good description in the upper register of piano recordings.

Trying to isolate the issue, I hear this across a wide selection of recordings of the same Mozart piano sonata to varying degrees (all 44.1kHz/16 bit) regardless the pianist and recording. Although relatively newer recordings appear to have this artifact more than older ones.

Before I continue with my Quixotic search for the “final 10%”, I’d like to identify the cause and tame this high frequency annoyance.

My thoughts:

(1) My once golden, now 63-year-old ears? Unfortunately, I have no intention of visiting an audiologist during COVID.

(2) This was present in my previous system as well and I'd hoped to eliminate it through recent upgrades. It may or may not have been helped. Can't recall.  It’s been so long since I’ve been to alive recital or concert, I don’t recall if the same annoyance happens live. 

(3) My 21”x16”x14” room is untreated other than for rugs, book-shelving on a side wall and ordinary furnishings, paintings, etc.

(4) More noticeable at higher (but not excessive) volumes.

(5) Occurs through speakers and headphones (HD800s and Campfire Ara iem using Dave or Mojo)

(6) XLR and speaker cables are older Synergistic Research (Element and Tungsten). Using silver tuning bullets (no snark, please), and have not tried gray or black, which are said to darken the sound (roll-off?) slightly. Have experimented in the past and found slight differences in sound character. Will try this next.

Recently moved from BHK 300s and pre with Modwright-modded Oppo Sonica DAC and Fidelizer Nimitra Signature server as Roon core to my current system:

Roon Nucleus Plus w/ Teddy Pardo LPS

D’Agostino Progressive Integrated

Chord M Scaler w/ Teddy Pardo LPS

Chord Dave DAC

Focal Kanta 3’s

Cables: Synergistic Research, Wireworld, Wywires. Stock Chord BNCs between M Scaler and Dave

Grateful for any thoughts as to cause/solution?




Where'd you get the LPS?
All Tedydy Pardo makes now are PSU.
Nice collection of equipment.
I cannot speculate on your brain barrier.
Beryllium tweeter in the Focal..? But then, you hear it on headphones too. And it was in your previous system. I think it’s your hearing. Hard wax and ear canal structure can cause certain resonances. Try pulling your ears around and see if it influences the sound. Try ear wax softener.

Could be Focals.  I moved so.e time ago from Harbeth 30.2s but my electronics were completely different so I'm not sure I could compare - even if I could remember.  

Good thought re wax build up.  Will pursue possible remedy.  Thanks
This drove me nuts for years. My problem was a nasty "zippy" quality that was most apparent in female voices in transition (ascending/descending). Always had soft dome tweeters and some aluminum. Don't have the problem with my current B&W 804D3 speakers which employ a diamond tweeter. Using tube/pre, solid state/amp and OCC cables (wireworld and Harmonic Technology). Your problem sounds like plain old distortion. 
Pianos really do make lots of high frequency ringing sounds because of the way the higher strings sympathetically resonate with any notes that are being played. There are no dampers on the highest strings, and when the pianist steps on the sustain pedal there are no dampers touching any of the strings, so they’re all free to resonate. That's part of what gives a piano its characteristic sound. The fact that you hear the ringing sound with lots of recordings and with different playback equipment, including both speakers and headphones, suggests that what you’re hearing is real. The fact that you don’t recall hearing that sound in live performances might be due to the fact that you weren’t close enough to the instrument. Most recordings are made with the microphones right next to the piano, or sometimes even inside it. The real test would be for you to stand right next to a piano while someone plays it, but I guess that will have to wait until after the pandemic is over. I bet you’ll be able to hear the ringing sounds.
Noromance is on to something. Impacted ear canals can do funny things
But impacted that long? Worth having your doc take a look. Ear drops will not do it. Your ears will have to be irrigated.
Millercarbon, tinnitus is always worse in quiet situations. Music can sometimes make it disappear entirely while it is playing. Masking.
There are other ear problems that can cause distortion at certain frequencies. Dislocated ossicles, fused ossicles, perforated ear drums amongst the most common. 
But for sure, if you are hearing it on headphones it is obviously not the room. It is also not the speakers which are the most common offenders. 
Electronics usually do not do this stuff but you can swap out any devices both the headphones and speakers have in common. 
After all this I would make an appointment with a good ENT doc. Do tell us what happens. 
I have enjoyed a pair of Focal Sopra No2's since they first arrived in the U.S.  I have heard them driven by a number of amplifiers, but not yours, and they seem to sound better with a more "mellow" amplifier driving them.
@cm6td5. Great post, thanks.  Trying to think (way) back to my conservatory days sitting on practice room floors listening to some of my amazing pianist friends.  I do seem to recall that the sound was overpowering at times.  
By the way, the same thing happens with other stringed instruments. If you’re right next to a violin you’ll hear ringing noises that don’t sound very musical, especially when a note is dying away. You aren’t normally aware of those sounds because usually you’re pretty far away, and violins are designed to sound good at a distance. But microphones aren’t usually placed out in the audience where your ears would normally be, because that results in an unsatisfying recorded sound. Microphones can’t do the auditory processing that your brain does, so if the microphones are far away the direct sound of the instrument tends to be overwhelmed by hall reverberation. To make up for that they place the microphones very close to the instruments, but that means the recording captures sounds you don’t normally hear when you’re in the audience. I think that’s part of the reason people frequently complain about how violins sound in recordings.
According to the OP: 
1. This was present in my previous system as well and I'd hoped to eliminate it   
2. More noticeable at higher (but not excessive) volumes.   
3. Occurs through speakers and headphones 

This rules out everything, leaving only the ears. Like I said, its tinnitus. 

If there was just one wish the Genie could grant me it would be to stop people from posting absolute blather as if they knew anything about it. Tinnitus is most definitely NOT always worse with no sound. Tinnitus can manifest in a whole lot of different ways. Unlike the blatherer I know what I'm talking about having actually lived through it! 

There's so many different forms of tinnitus this is total coincidence but what I had was exactly what the OP described. No ringing or funny noises at all, except with certain notes or sounds. I even had the problem first start to show up after making some changes, causing me to waste a lot of time and money trying to track down in my system what was actually in my ears. 

When I noticed the exact same "noise" listening to iPod and ear phones I knew for sure it wasn't the system. So for sure that is what you have. Really sorry to say.  

Tinnitus can have many causes. In my case it was long term use of pain killers for chronic back pain. Got the pain down, got off the meds, and it took a while but the ringing pretty much went away. Your case may well be different but its worth taking a look.   

Like a lot of things its easier to handle once you know what it is. Even if it won't go away (which it probably won't) at least you know what it is now and can disregard it and stop chasing down phantoms in your system.

@millercarbon Thank you for the clarification. I will most certainly look into it. 
@cantorgale - If you can specify which recordings give you the most grief, others can give-a-listen and feedback their results. The distortion may be "baked in" to the recording (in which case it aint never going to be good). Please specify. Thanks
@cantorgale, grab your phone or tablet, plug in some headphones, look-up “frequency sweep”.  After listening to sweeps over and over a couple times then zero’ing in on certain frequencies I realized my hearing is all over the board.  I have “hot spots” at something like 3,6,10 khz where the highs become louder and slightly annoying / piercing.  The image shifts left to right as well through the sweep which indicates hearing loss in my right ear at certain frequencies (maybe shooting with no ear protection).

Anyhow, I do have slight tinnitus so that may be your issue too.

I also have Beryllium tweeters and Beryllium headphones, neither of which are too bright for me.  I’ve heard of some people saying that the focals be tweeters can be a bit bright.  Not sure if thats your problem (combined with your hearing preferences now) but a nice pair of speakers with a high end silk dome may please you more now.
@dweller Great suggestion.  
A good reference is Mozart Piano Sonata No 11.  
I hear it very oftenin Mitsuko Uchida’s Decca recording in Complete Mozart Sonatas. 
Much less so in Andras Schiff’s version in his London Complete Sonatas.  The Decca is a much more incisive and forward presentation in every way, so there’s that. 
@b_limo Focal does have that rep. But like you I don’t find them overly bright either.   I think they’ve moved past that issue.  My old Chorus 706v’s had a hard top and I was a bit concerned about the Kantas. But no such concerns.  Of course, you get what you pay for...

Thanks to all for you input.  Much to pursue on my end.  

@cantorgale Can't find the Decca version -only Philips label.
Throw out a few more examples please. Also, when were your CDs recorded? There's a reason a lot of people hated early digital.
@dweller Sorry.  Roon data shows Decca.  Album art is Phillips.  You got it.  
If you say exactly where in those recordings you hear the problem, many of us can listen to the same spots and let you know if we hear the ringing or buzzing too. Which tracks, and how many seconds into those tracks? What kind of notes -- low or high, short or long, soft or loud, single notes or chords, at the beginning, middle, or end of notes.... If it helps you point out the right places to listen, the scores are available for free from IMSLP.