Balanced or Unbalanced, which way to go?

Am getting ready to upgrade my wiring and need some questions answered. I have all separate components, preamp, two amps and a separate phono stage for MC. I will be using a CD player and turntable in the same system. Would like to know if I can use balanced from preamp to amps with XLR's as the amps owners manual recommends and still get the best sound from CD and turntable? Many people seem to prefer bypassing the preamp with a CD player. I don't think that I can do this as I only have one set of XLR inputs on the amps. I also do not want to have to switch the back of the amps from balanced mode to unbalanced to go from CD listening to vinyl. Anyone with suggestions, I would love to hear from you. Thanks,
There are lots of posts on this subject in the archives, but it is worth repeating my experience. I like the use of a preamp, it renders the capacitance and inductance of cables to the amp less critical. I also feel the use of a preamp really helps the dynamics. I used a passive preamp for several years but always felt the music was a bit lean and lifeless. As far as balanced versus single ended, when I switched from RCA to XLR, I found the presentation more open and musical with only a slight loss of resolution.
It all depends on the design of your amp and preamp. I found a balanced/XLR between my pre and amp to be very positive as far as resolution goes. I think it sounds better in every way (and both my digital and analog sources are single-ended). The only downside (for me) is that it is 6db(??) louder, which makes it harder for me to listen to CD sources at low volume levels. The loss of volume control at low volumes is due to my preamps high output and amp's low sensitivity. Others may welcome the extra volume.
Yes, it depends upon whether your source AND preamp offer true balanced design. In my case balanced operation offers MORE resolution and greater dynamics, and the +6dB output puts it squarely in the middle of my gain range, which is perfect. Good Luck.
Thanks for your help guys. My preamp should be a good match for the amps as it's all Parasound. PLD 2000 preamp (supposed to be class A) and two HCA 2200 II's bridged mono (rated A/B). Lots of power here and very clean. No background noise between CD changes. Still would like to know if by going balanced from preamp to amps, would I then have to switch back to unbalanced to use the turntable? I only have one pair of balanced output connections on the back of my preamp. There is also a set of balanced inputs.
I also do not have phono on the preamp so I guess I'll be using the AUX RCA input. Will this be the way to go, coming from Cary PH301 phono preamp or should the Cary go directly to the amps? Have never had MC cartrdge before nor have I had a preamp with no phono stage. Always had Shure V15's and no need for the MC stage but am giving it a try. Anyway, let me know what you guys think of how to utilize all of this. Thanks again,
I *think* I know what you're asking...

The only way you could use the Cary straight to the amp would be if it had a high enough output to drive the amps, and either the amps or the Cary would have to have some sort of a volume control. It would involve unplugging your preamp from the amps and plugging in the Cary whenever you wanted to play LPs. It could be a huge hassle. You can run the Cary through the AUX input on your preamp, hook the preamp to the amps via the XLR cable, and you're done. The Cary doesn't have to be hooked up to a balanced/XLR input on your preamp. My pre is hooked to my amp via balanced connections, but I don't have any XLR inputs on my pre...all of my sources are going into my preamp via single-ended/RCA inputs and I still noticed a huge improvement going balanced between my preamp and amp. Good luck!
Thanks, that's what I need to know. Parasound suggests XLR's from amp to preamp. I was worried that everything had to be balanced if using that circuitry. Otherwise, good RCA's seem fine with me for CD and TT. The Cary arrived today and it's all RCA's, no volume control and no external gain control for MC, the book says to use AUX on my preamp. Simple enough. Odd looking piece but I just want good sound. CD still has it's own set of RCA's and a set of connections on the preamp.