Balanced in the pro world is pretty much essential. Balanced is great for really long runs. A pro setup could have easily 30 to 50 connections. XLR with its click-lock feature, great with so many connections, so many changes. Think of your system. How much of this applies?
Price is not always indicative of quality.
Right. You pay a lot more for balanced. But you don't get a lot more.
It’s a safe assumption all have their own sound signature.
Right. And you can't trust anyone to decide which sounds best. You just have to go and listen and decide for yourself.
Turntable preamp to be determined in the future.
This one's easy. Especially after what you saved avoiding XLR. Add that to what you had budgeted already and you should be able to afford the Herron.