ipod balanced output

I was cleaning up the attic and came upon an audio research BL-1 which has a single ended input but gives you a balanced output. I have been plugging my ipod directly into my ARC Ref1 with a monster cable and it sounded decent. What I difference when I plugged it into the BL-1 and then connected to the preamp with some cardas balanced hexlink cables. The sound became much more solid and to my ears sounded much better, but I've just added a set of cables and a piece of electronics into the mix so what gives?