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on February 14, 2013
I purchased this system as a gift for somebody, but have operated it extensively for the past couple of weeks. Bear in mind, that my setup is somewhat unique based on the 651SV 65" Vizio it was being connected to and the Time Warner digital cable box being used. Everybody will have different setups, so my case might be a little unique.

First off, the box that it comes in is fairly heavy...as can be expected with this amount of audio equipment. Yamaha sells all of these components separately, so they are boxed separately. To simplify, you are shipped 1 box, but then there are 3 boxes inside of that box for your 5 channel speakers, subwoofer, and audio receiver(which is actually the RX-V373 series receiver I believe, even though it is labeled HTR-3065 in this setup). Everything was shipped in tip top shape and had no problems there...it was packaged quite well by Yamaha.

Installation:
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I took my time hooking it up, but it was no real biggie as I just drilled some holes into the floor and ran the speaker wire through the basement. The room I placed this system in was 24'x13' and instead of using the thin wire Yamaha supplies you with, I just purchased the 100' roll of 16 guage RCA wire that is available here on Amazon. It is thicker, carries a signal a farther distance, and improves the clarity of sound when you are carrying a signal a farther distance...in other words, pretty much mandatory in my opinion. This is no slight to Yamaha, as all manufacturers sends you cheap and thin wire. I also purchased the Scientific Atlanta adjustable speaker stands for the rear surround speakers and they pair up beautifully together, although you need to add a spacer(I used a nut) to the screw that attached the Yamaha speaker to the stand as the screw can only screw in so far, leaving space between the back of the mount and speaker.

Yamaha provides you an easy setup guide and CD-ROM user manual, which is effective enough, but I would suggest just downloading the manuals for all the equipment in the system from Yamaha's website directly, so you can read through them while they are shipping to you. It helps you understand all the ins and outs much better(especially for the receiver).

Hooking up the speakers is pretty obvious...you run your length of wire, use wire cutters to cut and splay the ends so you can hook them up into the lever actuated port holes(obviously making sure you have all the positives and negatives straight...I made the white line my positive). The only difference is the rear surround hook up on the back gives you the option to use banana plugs. I'm not quite sure why they did this ONLY for the rear surround channels, but they did. If you don't want banana plugs, it's fine, and you can still screw them out and then screw down your splayed ends and just use the wire by itself.

The sub is an actively powered sub, so you will have to plug it in separately into an outlet. It connects via a single RCA jack into the back of the receiver with an INCLUDED RCA sub wire that is 5m(~15ft) long. The power cord isn't as long, but as long as you have an outlet nearby, it's nice to have the flexibility to move the sub around to a place where you have optimal audio output and clarity.

Initial impressions:
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Out of the box, this system is actually 500 watts, not 600 watts. What do I mean by that? The receiver is actually preset at 8 ohms of impedance which nets 80W x 5 channels + 100W sub...500W. Now you can easily change the impedance on the receiver to 6 ohms as all of the speakers are rated to handle 6 ohms of impedance, but I found 8 ohms(500W total) to be more than enough for my application in a 24'x13' living room. I can crank it up and shake the house with the active powered sub, so I found no reason to even try 6 ohms(600W).

The setup is different for all, but you have 4 HDMI ins with pass through signalling through the receiver and 1 HDMI out to your viewing source(TV). I intially set up the Time Warner Cable Box and Blu-ray player to the HDMI inputs on the receiver and then ran the HDMI out on the receiver to the HDMI input on the TV. Once you go through the setup button on the receiver remote and go to HDMI, you can enable "HDMI control" which syncs the receiver with your TV and you can utilize more of the simple functions into 1 remote control(in my case, my digital cable remote). Keep in mind, you need to enable the CEC/HDMI control/Device Disovery/etc. on your TV as well, ASSUMING your TV has the ARC(audio return channel)HDMI feature built into your TV.

Issues:
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A couple of my problems with the system is that, in my particular setup with my cable box and TV, the system would cut the channels picture when you adjusted the volume on standard definition channels for 3-4 seconds...an annoyance. I'm not quite sure why this was, but in my application it did this as first. After trying to fiddle with it for a while, I could not remedy it, so I changed the setup a little. Instead of running my HDMI cable digital cable box TO the receiver, I hooked it up into the TV, then used the HDMI ARC(audio return) on the HDMI-OUT of the receiver. This eliminated the picture cut out and it works like a charm now. Keep in mind, this was just my cable box...it may be fine for others.

Another issue was start up with my old setup. I had my cable box going into HDMI-2 on the receiver to pass through to the TV. While this worked, when you start the TV(and thereby receiver up since it's synched to start with the TV), it only gives you the option of choosing Audio 1-2 or AV 1-5 inputs, so you would have to manually change the input to HDMI-2 to get audio. Sure, it's one button, but it seems rather dumb on Yamaha's part not to allow it to start up with one of the HDMI ports if you want it to. Like I stated in the last section, I changed the setup around, so this was no longer an issue when I hooked up the cable box to the TV, instead of the receiver.

The sub can't just be turned off with 1 click of the remote. You would have to either manual turn the power of it off on the back or go through a few menus and turn it off via remote. 1 button on the remote would be nice to just shut it off more easily, but not a big hindrance to me.

So far, I have noticed the receiver doesn't actually turn on when you hit the "power" button on a synched system. In my case, the TV powers up, then realizes it's connection, then a few seconds later the receiver powers on. It's only a minor issue and nothing substantial, but slightly annoying that you have to wait the additional 5-6 seconds for the audio to arrive...at least in my setup.

Performance:
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I'm extremely pleased with the performance. The NSP-2000 5 channel speaker setup is not the greatest in the world, but at $300, it's quite admirable and does a solid job...better than most all others in this price range. The sub is quite nice with a volume dial on the back and then you can trim and adjust the volume settings as much as you want on the setup on the receiver. It might be only 8", but at 100W and the dual servo technology, if I turned it up all the way, it will rattle the windows in our 24'x13' living room. It's quite solid and definitely will put out enough bass for 95% of people out there as it blows the 5 channel speakers in the system out of the water if it wants to. The receiver allows you to choose and trim out plenty of audio settings...no complaints there at all...has about all I want or need.

The YPAO calibration mic does a stellar job. I ran it and it's simple as can be to run the calibration. The only caveat is you want to have it at ear level which is easier said than done in some cases. Also, you need to keep in mind, that it is calibrating the sound for that ONE POINT in the room. The point is Ground Zero for your system, so if you have an awkward layout, like I was working with, it can get you in the ballpark and you can adjust the speaker settings manually after that to suit your particular needs.

Like any system, sub placement is pretty important and you want to have it angled, so it bounces off the walls as opposed to right at you drowning out all the audio quality. You also want to make sure that the blow out port is not buried against the wall either as that port will produce high frequency bass sound.

I watched Planet Earth, Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and a few other things via Blu-ray, and for this price point of $300, I don't think you can possibly do better. I watch them at 0.0dB as Yamaha deems their volume level(which I believe ranges from -80.0dB to +16.5dB). At 0.0dB, action sequences are more than enough loud...possibly even louder than what you would experience in a theatre, and if you wanted it to be louder, you still have another 16.5dB to adjust up to, a 6 ohm(600W) setting, and input trims to raise up. I highly doubt anybody will be going up that high in volume unless they have a gargantuan sized room.

The FM antenna is pretty weak that they provide for you, but can easily be replaced. Broadcasts that do come in, sound great though. It also has AM antenna, but I didn't bother hooking it up to be quite frank.

For $300, I was torn between the Onkyo models and this Yamaha. Despite a few annoyances that I worked around in my particular application, it has been stellar and more than I was anticipating in sound quality and intensity. My concern with the Onkyos were reports of their receivers getting hot. At the 8 ohm impedance setting out of the box and everything cranked up, this Yamaha receiver gets warm(like all receivers), but nowhere near hot during normal use, which is nice peace of mind to have in the back of your mind. Now I can get this system "hot" by running it near max volume for extended periods of time, but I am presuming this is true of most all receivers. At max volume, it's generally too loud for me anyways and I'm in my 20s, so I tend to listen to things "loud". I'm giving it 4.5 out of 5 stars simply because of some minor issues in my application, but for most people, these won't even be a problem. Sure, it's not a setup where you have 12" JBL subs and a couple grand worth of 5 or 7 channel speakers, but for the value and bang for you buck, I'm not quite sure it can be beaten, so I would highly recommend it and give it a 5 out of 5 in terms of value for the sound quality.

UPDATE(2/27): I noticed when the volume is turned up very loudly for extended periods of time, that the receiver does run hot when pushed harder. This is partially because it's on a rug temporarily which limits(not completely) some of the incoming airflow under the receiver until the TV stand arrives. This level of heat is only generated by very high volumes/outputs though...usually above +6.0dB and above for extended periods of time. While, I rarely ever approach those volume levels unless I really want to rock out to loud music, I purchased a Thermaltake Mobile Fan 12 External USB Cooling Fan 12CM AF0007 to plug into the front of the USB port on the front of the receiver and it stays cool as can be now. I just disassembled the cooling fan grills and stand, and laid the fan on top of the top front of the receiver, and it does wonders on cooling the receiver. It's just added insurance and peace of mind to have and only adds about 7/8" in height. I also purchased a TCC TC-750 BLACK Audiophile Phono Preamp, Pre-amp (Preamplifier) and played some turntable music through it and it sounds fantastic, especially on the bass side...very happy with this system as a whole for the money.
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on December 2, 2012
You really can't beat this unit for the price. It came as advertised and only took a couple hours to set up. The instruction manual was lacking, but the disc that accompanied it is very thorough. I am pretty savvy with home theater equipment and this unit seemed too good to be true. Well, it is and it's not.........

It was easy to put together and does the job as advertised. The sound is really good for a unit of this price. Yamaha has always had a good name and hasn't let it go with this unit. The surround sound "auto" set up is very easy and works really well. It's easy to tweak the settings if need be as well. There are a lot of inputs for various devices. Although, the inputs area is exactly where I have an issue and I'll address that below.....The unit is very easy to navigate through the menu and adjust things and customize things for you. The USB input on the front of the unit is great for your ipod/iphone. Don't knock the sound or the speakers until you have set it up completely and have customized everything. Once it's set up, the entire package sounds pretty good.

The idea of a home theater system, to me, is to have ALL the devices going to the unit and then ONE cable (HDMI) going to the TV. This is NOT that unit. The only things that travels through the HDMI output cable are the HDMI inputs, as well as sound from the other inputs. Video from the AV or Component inputs does NOT get transferred through the HDMI output to the TV. On this unit they require a separate cable going from the AV output or Component output to another input on the TV, which to me defeats some of the purpose of having a "system". Now, if your TV is on a stand sitting right above the tuner then not as big of a deal, although you will still have to change the input on the TV if you want to play your playstation or whatever is not running through the HDMI cable.....a pain, but possible. BUT, if your TV is mounted on the wall and your cables are running through the wall then that significantly complicates the installation since you will then have to run more cables through the wall to all the different inputs on the TV. And again, kind of a pain to have to change the input on the TV depending on what device you're using. This is my only con regarding this unit, albeit a very big one IMO. Luckily they make a Wii to HDMI converter and I'm putting my PS2 in the other room for my son. So for now, the 4 HDMI inputs are going to be enough. But if you have more devices than 4 then you will have the issue that I mention above.

Right now I couldn't afford the actual system that I really wanted. I bought this as a temporary filler for a little while and it is definitely going to do the job and do it well! I should have only given this 3 stars because of the issue I mentioned above, although, for the price and what you get, this is worth a 4 star rating.
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on September 22, 2012
Installation took about 3 hours and I had my young apprentice electrician son-in-law do it. I could have but he knew what he was doing.

Once installed, it performed exactly like I hoped. We had both gotten the point where we were using subtitles to understand movie dialogue. That is no longer necessary. When at a moderate sound level, the sound is clear and crisp and easily understandable. When turned up for music or action films, the system gives the feeling of being in a theater.

Great buy for the price.
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on December 13, 2012
This is definitely a better system than most low end home theater in a box systems by the mass market brands with their proprietary cables and chintzy speakers. On the other hand, this is not a super audiophile product, but rather a nice middle ground product that probably fits the needs of most normal consumers. The set-up is quite simple and the components are products that are sold by Yamaha separately (the sub is almost $100 on Amazon alone and is well rated). I am one of those people who will research things obsessively, and I feel like I can say with confidence that to get something that sounds significantly better than this system, you are likely looking at $600 and up. Some caveats to my appraisal are that I have it set up in a small living room and that I replaced the two front speakers with some higher quality units I had sitting around. Immediately after purchasing the unit (but before receiving it) I had some buyer's remorse thinking I should have stepped up to the Yht-597 that has a bit more powerful and fuller featured. The hdmi pass -through and networkability were what made me reconsider. However, I have it all set up and am quite satisfied with the features, but the extra $150 may be worth it for many. In case you are an energy geek like I am, I can tell you that according to my watt meter the sub sucks down 7 watts in stand by and seems to peak up around 50. The receiver runs about 40-70 at normal listening levels in Eco mode and about 35 with no source passing through. The one upgrade you will want to make off the bat is real speaker wire and a beefier RCA sub cable. A nice universal remote like a Harmony would also probably make you life easier if you do not have on already.
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on November 7, 2012
This system was easy to install and has very excellent sound. I have it in my upstairs 14' x 16' living room with vaulted ceiling and I barely need any volume on this system because its so powerful. The subwoofer has an on/off switch and volume control which is a huge plus for me as well. I highly recommend it to anyone that wants great quality at a reasonable price.
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on October 10, 2012
Sound quality was passable until I ran the YPAO auto-optimizer, which greatly balanced and improved output based on the room's layout and speaker position/distance. I recommend running it again after any significant change in furniture placement.

The receiver detects most surround formats through digital inputs. Playing VLC on an iMac connected via HDMI, the receiver's front display can say if the current video uses DTS, Pro Logic, etc. Similarly, audio from an XBox 360 can be in different formats depending on the game or Netflix content. It all switches automatically, unless you switch to music. Music can be played through front right/left, or expanded to surround. There is a compressed music optimizer, along with a few reverb options (Hall in Munich, underground club, etc). Not headline features, but nice to have. The optimizer also helps the sound of compressed web videos.

The front USB port is convenient for charging and playing full quality music from an iPhone. However, this is the first accessory I have seen which locks out music navigation from the phone. You have to browse music through a very retro interface displayed on the tv. I can kind of see the appeal of using the remote control from anywhere in the room, but I would have preferred it to just pass along playback commands like a normal dock accessory. If you find this to be a deal-breaker, you might consider a receiver with AirPlay, like the YHT-597.

If you want to play only music through this system via HDMI, not all Macs are friendly with HDMI when the tv is off. They will keep resetting the connection, trying to talk to a tv. This is not a fault of the surround system, but is something to consider. Again, for this function you might be better off with an AirPlay-supporting model, or using optical/RCA.

Turning the unit on, about half the time, HDMI video passes through without audio, until I restart the receiver. This occurs regardless of whether the game console/computer is on first. Probably not an issue with optical/coax/RCA inputs, but power cycling like this might wear out the circuits faster, especially with all the audible popping that occurs each time.

EDIT Jan 2014
The issue of having no HDMI audio almost never happens now.
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on March 5, 2013
The item arrived on time and was simple to set up. I already had all the speaker wires ran and everything was ready for the receiver once it arrived. Everything worked fine for about a month and then I started having problems with the HDMI ports. My TV would not get the picture from the receiver and all i would get is a purple screen. I switched to my PS3 and then XBOX360 and would not even get a signal. Fine, i thought maybe it could a faulty hdmi cable. So I plugged the hdmi cable straight from the TV to the cable box and everything worked... I then tried this with my PS3 and XBOX and everything worked fine. I gave it another go and tried everything through the yamaha again... and again, not luck. I had plenty of hdmi cables laying around, so i changed those as well just too see, but still just a purple screen. I called yamaha and they walked me through a factory reset, which did not work. They suggested I could either drop it off at the nearest authorized Yamaha repair shop (70 miles away) or pay to have shipped there. The product is a little over a month old, used sparely during that time and already has issues. I was not happy. I contacted Amazon, and as always, got a great CSR that worked with me to resolve this issue. This is why I will always look to Amazon first when making any purchases!! Thank-you Amazon!
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on February 4, 2013
3/26/13 Update
Still extremely happy with this system. Plus I noticed the new price has dropped below $250! Amazing sound at an amazing price!

Original Review
With this purchase, I stepped up from a sound bar with a sub-woofer, to this system. The sound fills our 25'x30' room that we placed it in. On our old system, we used to have to turn the sound way up to hear the speaking parts and then get blasted by the music or action scenes. No more! With this Yamaha YHT-397 5.1-Channel Home Theater System we can now clearly hear the voices at the level we want, and still enjoy the drama and excitement of the rest of the effects of the movie we are watching.

The two minor cons for me are:

1.The thin speaker wire they include with the system(but pretty much everyone does this at this pricing level). While the included wire is useable, I would recommend upgrading to a heavier gauge speaker wire, for example RCA AH16100SN 100 Ft. 16-Gauge Speaker Wire.

2. I know everyone wants to cut costs under the guise of going green today, but I really despise product manuals on CD. I get really annoyed having to run back and forth from the computer to the entertainment center when I need information, instead of just conveniently looking at the manual where I am installing the item.

But as I said, these are minor annoyances.

Pros:

1. Impressive sound quality!

2. The style and look of the receiver and speakers are classic and look wonderful. The speakers are small but powerful, and look good while conveniently fitting into many settings, or can be hung on the wall if you desire.

3. The YPAO Sound Optimization for automatic speaker setup of the surround system makes it very simple to get the correct levels from all the speakers.

4. This system is ready for the next generation technology like 4k video pass-through and ECO mode for lower power consumption.

5. The Price! Picking this system up for $299 makes it an unbeatable value with great sound quality!

At this point, I couldn't be happier with my new system!
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on December 14, 2012
I replaced a Bose system with this system. The sound is great once you run the audio tuning program. I was even able to use the ceiling mounting brackets from the Bose cube speakers for the Yamaha speakers. Setup was quick and I was listening to great music and DVD sound in less than 3 hours. I connected all my other components via the HDMI ports and then the HDMI out port to the TV. Works great.
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on September 12, 2012
Great system. I have a B*** Lifestyle system, and the performance is equal to that at a fraction of the price. I had a problem hooking up to my TV using a HDMI cable, but eventually it worked. Worth every penny.
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