Mixing balanced and unbalanced inputs/outputs on Ayre preamp - amateur question!


I have been enjoying my system for a few years but I am now in the position to start upgrading. I have a pretty basic question that I can't seem to find a good answer to. I am looking to upgrade my preamp to an Ayre K-5xeMP that accepts both balanced and unbalanced inputs/outputs. I will also be upgrading my DAC and it will likely also have balanced output as an option. I will also be adding a phono preamp (currently integrated with my pre) that will be unbalanced. My amp is an old Mcintosh MC2125 that is unbalanced. I would prefer to not upgrade the amp for a while.

Could I run both balanced and unbalanced inputs into the Ayre followed by unbalanced output to the Mcintosh? Or does the entire system either have to be balanced or unbalanced? I understand I may not be getting the best quality by mixing, but if I can mix the inputs/outputs it allows me to slowly upgrade all components to ones that accept balanced connections.

How my system may look in the near future
DAC balanced output -> Ayre balanced input -> Ayre unbalanced output -> Mcintosh
Phono preamp unbalanced output -> Ayre unbalanced input -> Ayre unbalanced output -> Mcintosh

Is this possible? Or is it all balanced or all unbalanced or it may cause some damage to the preamp? Of course eventually I hope to upgrade the amp and phono section, but I can't do it all at once.

Thank you for the help! I know this may be a silly question, but it's my first experience with balanced connections.

Showing 1 response by blefevre

Thank you everyone for the responses. I appreciate the help. I definitely want to go full balanced eventually, but in the meantime I will have to have mixed input/output.