The Reference has a massive speaker enclosure, 6' 8" tall, plus 2 1/2" for the feet, and weighing over 450 pounds. It is built with the very best materials, selected for their sonic merits, and constructed in a rigid and durable fashion. The walls of the enclosure are 1-4" of laminated MDF, the preferred material for large, high end speakers. We use only the densest, and heaviest grade of MDF. The front baffle has extensions that bring the thickness up to 4" in some areas. The woofers are extended out the extra 3-4" to compensate for proper time and phase coherence of the bass frequencies, and the mid range is extended 1 1/2" beyond the baffle, while the tweeter is mounted directly to the front baffle. A new design element is the use of a "canted" baffle extension for the woofers, which directs the sound more accurately to the position of the listener, to provide even better time and phase coherence for the entire system. (See the link for "time and phase coherence" for more information on this feature.) A generous use of internal cross bracing further enhances the rigidity of the cabinet. The front-ported design is also a follow through from the original JBL design concepts, since it matches these kind of drivers well, and further enhances the high sensitivity, low power requirements of the system, though this generally requires a larger cabinet than a sealed box design. But of course we are using a particularly large and heavy cabinet here, so the design follows through on the original concept. The cabinet is configured in an asymmetrical hexagon shape, which is not only pleasing to the eye, but helps minimize internal reflections of the sound, by avoiding parallel surfaces in the interior. The cabinet is lined with 2 ½' thick variegated foam pads, which prevent internal reflections that may adversely affect the sound, especially at the low end. The feet (6 per side) are very attractive and robust, in keeping with the size and weight of the cabinet, being machined out of solid brass bar stock, and weigh 1 pound each!
The finish can be supplied in a variety of woods and colors, including all black. There are two versions of black: one with a wood grain showing through on the main body of the cabinet, and smooth satin black on all the surfaces shown on the wood version of the cabinet; and two, a smooth satin black finish on the entire cabinet.
There are two main type of wood versions: one, as shown in most of the pictures on this site, that is, with wood veneer on all sides of the main cabinet body, with smooth satin black on the top, base and front baffle extensions; and two, with the entire cabinet veneered in wood, with no black parts (except for the drivers.)