I used to own a Chromecast Audio (CCA), which does support Spotify Connect (for Premium and Free plans.) Yet, in my experience, sound quality on CCA ($35) is rather bad when used with Spotify. Supposedly (as I found out during my research on the web), "transcoding" is performed when CCA is asked to play Spotify streams, which results in rather noticeable audio artifacts, whether analog or optical output is used (however, I can attest that CCA has much better quality when using TIDAL.)
Recently, I got my hands on an ASUS Clique R100 ($89), and I can tell that it offers a remarkable sound improvement over CCA specifically for Spotify streams. In addition to analog output, Clique R100 does offer an optical output as well, which (as was the case with CCA) I use in conjunction with an external DAC and headphone amp. At this point, I am satisfied with this set-up.
However, when looking for possible upgrade paths in the future, I see that there are not many Spotify Connect WiFi streamers available in the USA market, and I wonder why. Is it a simple matter of low demand, and therefore low supply? In contrast, The Spotify Gear website lists many streamers targeted at European customers, mostly from European manufacturers or brands.
My budget for a next-level WiFi streamer would be $150-200 at most. In that range, Yamaha WXAD-10 seems a decent option, but it is not available in the USA (I should point out that the Yamaha device includes a DAC, so it doesn't have an optical output.)
Has anyone else noticed this lack of WiFi streamer options in the USA? Are other people here on Massdrop using similar systems (WiFi streamer + DAC + headphone amp)? Which components comprise your systems? Are you satisfied with the sound quality?