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It is becoming clear that even speaker manufacturers don't know the outside potential of their designs. They only work up the speakers with a set of components and cannot have a holistic understanding of the potential. Even dealers who make less systems don't know the outside parameters of performance. It's somewhat ignorant, then, to say one has maxed out the speaker's performance, because with consistency in system development a better sound WILL be forthcoming.

The comment is mine, after 13 years of reviewing and elevating performance of speakers. Though I am not going on record yet with extension of the thought, I suspect that it holds true also for components and cables.  :) 
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I agree with passive speaker designs - speaker can performance can be all over the map from terrible with the wrong amplifier pairing to excellent with the right match.

However active speakers are indeed optimized in a holistic sense. Manufacturers of active speakers are giving you their holistic result based on the manufacturers criteria (price point, reliability, sound quality etc)
Well yes indeed
if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there....
i would say start with a deep love of live unamplified music so you have a reference, chasing your tail otherwise
research the physical  and mental ways in which we hear - for example as a designer do you believe human hearing is more/equal/less sensitive to time information vs amplitude ?
system objectives come next which might with thought provide what we call the balanced trade space: cost , size, efficiency, full range, portable, etc....
then develop some design principles like : pre-ring should be avoided, wavelaunch that looks like the test signal, pistonic behavior in the driver, breakup x cycles away from crossover, cabinet nodes x dB down

probably a decent book in this, might look like designing, building, testing , and improving over time an airplane....

Firstly, a lot of products are designed rather than engineered.

For example some loudspeakers have computer designed crossovers that take into account the dynamic and LRC parameters of the drivers. These designs are listener tweaked with multiple sets of electronics and cables. Others have 'cookbook' crossovers predicated only on the nominal driver R and receive minimal tweaking. Some of the these can be very good and achieve cult status simply because the designer got lucky.

OTOH, the engineered design could suffer from all manner of things beyond the engineers control: voice coil former, diaphragm, surround, capacitor, glue, gasket, laminate, etc. deterioration or a bad business model and simply fade away.

Some designs are so egregious as to be almost unlistenable but are still capable of resolving differences between preceding components and so, as they get better, the improvements are detected.

It is uncharitable to lay blame for one's inability to accurately predict the future

Douglas - You make a good point. I have heard my own speakers demonstrated at shows and felt they didn’t sound nearly as good as they do in my own home with my front end gear. It’s all about synergy and set up. That said, I did have a pair of entry-level speakers from a well-known company. I owned them for nine years, and never really enjoyed them (I know: Why did I buy them? Because they were the best I could afford at the time.) I kept improving my source components, amplification components and wires. Yes there were some improvements, but in the end, I decided it would be cheaper to replace the speakers than end up with a $15,000 front end feeding a $1,000 pair of speakers. So, in a sense, the cost and effort of wringing out that speaker’s full potential was simply less appealing than the short cut of replacing the speakers, and ultimately saving time and money. I did so, and couldn’t be happier with the speakers I upgraded to. Eight years on, I have no desire to upgrade again.

I am sure you would agree that, properly set up, a top of the line pair of, let’s say, Focals, will out-perform a properly fed and set up pair of sub-$1000 Elacs, for example, no matter how much is spent on the electronics or how much effort goes into proper positioning and room treatments.

Bondmanp +1, Doug I don’t think Luis from Omega is aware , how good is the rs8 , bought from him, The moment I got a Gumby Dac for his speakers, the Omega was transform from good , to amazingly superb...I agree with you...

Likely, many speakers which did not impress us initially could become quite desirable if we had the capacity to work with them, to alter the system several times. It's tough to get an absolute read on a speaker - or any other component - from one listen or one system. But, I can. ;)

Doug for many years, I did not work on my Andra, those yrs I did not have the money, the time, and experience, I am just happy I have them.when I started gaining more experience on gears and cables, listening skills, got a good job, then I decided to work on them, buying good cables , gears, now the Andra do sound the way they price them, nothing is automatic in this hobby, but there is a reward at the end , if you do it right....
I think you're right, Doug. With speakers having the most distortion of any piece of gear in the system, getting it down to the the least amount of distortion amounts to task, if not a trek, to achieving the best sound potential. 

All the best,
Some might find this Cable Snake Oil Antidote interesting with respect to LRC, the signal and the system.

Cables affect the sound and the effect is system dependent.

Another's opinion on a cable in a vastly different system may not be valid.