I'm using an Emotiva ERC-4, solid build with my MHDT Stockholm v2. no issues
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I can’t comment on the Simaudio 260DT vs the Audiolab, but I can against the similarly priced Cambridge Audio CXC . I initially had the CXC in my main system sourcing my Mojo EVO DAC and was generally pleased.However, Ben of Mojo Audio strongly suggested that I try a higher quality transport if I wanted the EVO to deliver what it can so I decided to try the 260DT. I have found with the Simaudio that the music is presented with more weight, detail, definition and pace. For me it was worth the price difference in musicality, and it is certainly of better construction.
BTW, you might want to try messaging Audiogon member teajay, he reviewed the Orchard and may be able to give you some thoughts specific to transports driving the Orchard. I don’t recall if some of the specific Orchid DAC FORUM threads included comments about transports members were using with it.
Good luck with whichever choice you make
Interesting question. There are so many opinions on transports ranging from "they're all the same- bits are bits" to "a better transport with a cheaper dac will outperform a poor transport and a better dac." I've owned several excellent CD players in the 5k-10k range, but the Cambridge CXC is the first transport I've owned. I bought it refurbished on Ebay for about $350 and I would highly recommend it if you can get it at that price. I have no experience with other transports, but a number of people with ears I respect have touted the sonic superiority of the better transports, so I don't think you would be wasting your money if you bought a Moon or a Jay's or whatever. That said, as you have no frame of reference, it might be more fun to go with the CXC or Audiolab in order to establish a sonic baseline and then later move up the chain. I think either transport is capable of letting you enjoy your dac to a high degree and you can upgrade later. Just don't forget you also need a good digital cable.
IMO a high quality transport is worth pursuing as they do matter sonically. In addition to the Sim Audio Moon I’d recommend considering a used PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport and the Jays Audio CDT2 new/used . A good transport will exploit the sonic potential of a good DAC such as your MDHT. I wouldn't cut corners when buying a CD transport.