just a note; i'm using the monster 3.5mm-optical-to-toslink cable between AE and D1.
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I have a lot of experience with the AirPort Express. It is one of the worse jitter offenders out there. I even modded it at one time for customers, putting a better clock and power supply in it. Still not great. Dropped the product. The DAC will not fix it either, no matter what your DAC is.
AE is beyond help, so needs a reclocker IME.