Portaphile is definitely one of the better portable amps I've had the pleasure of owning. I don't miss the standalone amps I used to own. Maybe a little but not much. Soundstage width and imaging are quite excellent on the 627, best I've heard in a portable amp. With the Portaphile out of the chain I'm definitely missing these attributes as the amp section of AK100 is not as good as of that of the Portaphile which it is not unexpected. I will combine the AK + 627 tomorrow night.
That's interesting that you've mentioned Portaphile. That's at least twice now I've heard someone mentioned about that amp. I wrote a review about the Ortofon MHd-Q7 (which I love when it's paired with the RWAK100), but someone mentioned Portaphile has even wider soundstage and deeper imaging than the MHd-Q7. I should find a way to demo that Portaphile one day.
At least with the gear I have access to, I found something really magical about the balanced IC of the -dB/Rx Mk3. Agreed about the scratchiness of the pot, and even hiss depending on gain setting. But once set I usually don't touch it that much. Maybe it's specific to the -dB/Rx Mk3 or maybe it's just balanced backend in general. I've never tried the iBasso PB/DB2.