This is just me writing for the heck of it, its not really meant for people to take personally or crucify me b/c I like to write.
this becomes a point of personal preference. after FR, Dist., and accuracy, you are looking at cosmetics and eq (essentially... maybe Q, but most high end stuff is what it is). ask yourself "what sounds the best to me?" and run with it. i've been getting all kinds of flak and horrible messages for being a "funk audio only guy", but the point is that i can tune FA speakers to do what i want and sound the way i want them to sound. so for me, there is little reason to start shopping again. i have literally found my audio Shangri-La/nirvana/state of blissfulness.
i dont need my harmon kardon, marantz, or mitsubishi anymore, b/c my amp does all i need and more with less distortion.
i dont need 20K plus speakers, b/c mine are all active dsp and have stupid amounts of power handling with less distortion.
the guy who build my stereo is a phone call or email away, and i can talk to any one of the 4 people who had a hand in building it.
to me i just makes sense.
boiled down to some few factors -
ports should be silent, if they are not, then they are not working as the principal of a helmholtz resonator dictates. nathan schooled me on this one and i ended up looking like a total dork. so does the sealed/unsealed design play a role? only if the design in the either is a poor design. now i have said that i do not like ports in the past, but my opinion has changed because i heard a proper ported design.
how important is presentation to you? does it have to look awesome? some don't care, so why spend the extra money?
distortion is evil, so i avoid it at great cost, and that is the fundamental reason i have made the decisions i have in my equipment choices.
Bill F had it right. asking what is the ultimate is like asking what is the best anything in the world. its all relative to the person. i like BMW, my dad likes Ford, and my cousin likes Mazda, we all have our individual "ultimates". But then again, i really try to look for the positives in other peoples tastes, try to see what they see, so i can at least have an appreciation for others tastes.