How does going balanced get me off the cable merry go round? Balanced cables have their own differences, right? How do you suggest configuring the system as "balanced" with the inclusion of a SUT? Are you saying skip the built in MC phono section and run VPI table junction box (a new one with balanced connections > balanced cable (what kind?) > SUT (which one?) > McIntosh line input (i.e. Tape or whatever)? What kind of improvements would one expect with the phono configured this way?
The Balanced line system was devised for the specific purpose of preventing the cable from having any sort of sonic artifact. So you get off the merry go round simply because if you set up your balanced line properly, the cable will have no impact on the sound.
If you also have an SUT, then you have an simple method of operating balanced even if the phono section is single-ended (FWIW, we've been making balanced phono sections for decades). This is because transformers have an inherent balanced input/output capability, even if it is not exercised in a particular transformer product.
Now one of the aspects of balanced line operation is that it is low impedance, but if you are running a LOMC cartridge that is the easy part, as many LOMC cartridges might have impedances of 50 ohms or less. Most people know that they have low output voltage, but don't think about this low impedance aspect- its ideal for driving a balanced line.
The other part of the trick is that the cable is set up in such a way that none of the signal is using the shield, unlike a single-ended cable. This is yet another way of reducing the effect of the cable construction. Its already set up this way inside most tone arms!
There are several advantages. The resulting setup is very resistant to hum and noise. The cable ceases to have an effect on the sound- which is also to say that it will sound better than single-ended, where no matter what cable you have it will always affect the sound (the proof of this being that at the very least, the cable manufacturer that made your cable will have a better one next year and if he doesn't, someone else will...). Obviously, this means that you don't have to spend $1000 on a cable, IOW its less expensive.
The disadvantages: none are sonic. Instead the main disadvantage is that it may not be super easy to plug in a different preamp. That depends somewhat on how you set things up though.
Beware anyone that tells you that cartridges/tone arms are not a balanced source as they have no idea what they are talking about.
If you get serious about this and have further questions just PM me.