Congratulations! On your purchase of an Ayre CX-7. I own one myself, and for me, running balanced and in the listen mode is the only way to fly. I've played with different combo's of cables and switching back and forth between the listen and measured mode, and kept going back to XLR's. My wife, who's ears I trust says their's no comparison for her, she perfers the XLR's also. What do I hear? Most apparent, is the " Air " around the instruments and vocals, second is the sound stage, in my system it's deeper, with more space. And thirdly, Bass is deeper, much more defined. But most of all, more musically enjoyable. PS You might not get too much of this good stuff on cheap XLR's, ( Absolutely, no offense to The Post above.) I would try to borrow a decent pair of XLR's and A-B them for yourself on a long weekend. Then decide!
Good Luck on your Sonic Quest