Its features lineup is thin and music performance is lacking, but for home theater watching, the 5.1-channel Yamaha YHT-497 delivers component-quality audio at an HTIB price. The heart of the system is a Yamaha stand-alone receiver that gets tons of accolades from reviewers, including us.
Great receiver, so-so speakers. Unlike many home theater systems, the Yamaha YHT-497 is
built around a component-grade receiver that you can buy separately. The RX-V373 (*Est. $250)
is liked so
well by critics and owners that we name it the best budget choice in our report
The Yamaha NS-PZ40 five-channel speaker kit and NS-SW40 100-watt powered subwoofer appear to be manufactured solely for use in the company's home theater kits and can't be purchased on their own. Given that this speaker ensemble costs just $180, it's pretty evident that they aren't top shelf.
That said, user reviews tend to be highly complimentary of overall sound quality. Bangs and booms deliver all of their visceral impact, even when the receiver is pushed to its limits, while leaving dialogue clear. Surround processing is generally accurate, assuming your speakers are set up properly. One professional evaluation also considers the audio to be pretty good, although some shortfalls would make audiophiles cringe. Yet for those assembling a home theater system on a budget, the YHT-497 belongs at the top of the list.
Unlike more expensive home theater systems, this HTIB has no built-in video processing features. However, the receiver can pass through video unharmed, including 3D and 4K.
Do it yourself. Most home theater kits simplify setup by relying on pre-cut cables, and color-coded and often proprietary connectors. You won't find any of that here, just some standard speaker wires that you'll need to cut to length and standard connectors. On the plus side, this makes upgrading the included speakers easy should the need or desire arise. Reports say hookup isn't complicated, and the included installation guide is easy to follow. A built-in speaker equalization feature analyzes room acoustics using an included microphone, and sets speaker levels for best performance and most realistic surround sound.
The basics, plus a little more. Although the Yamaha YHT-497 lacks high-end extras, it does support modern Dolby and DTS high-resolution audio modes, as well as a number of Yamaha's proprietary digital signal processing (DSP) modes. The four HDMI inputs/one HDMI output include support for that standard's audio return channel -- so you might not need an analog cable for audio from your TV if it supports that feature -- along with the aforementioned 3D and 4K pass through. There's no iPod dock, but the HTIB does have a compatible front-panel USB connection. You'll need to budget extra for a Blu-ray player if needed.
In terms of style, the YHT-497 looks the part of a typical home theater receiver. Its black plastic speakers aren't immense, but neither are they small enough to go unnoticed in most settings.
Excellent bang for the buck, literally. At this price point, it's tough to find a home theater system that won't lose its composure when stressed by high-octane content played at high volume levels, but the Yamaha YHT-497 delivers. It's also very easy to upgrade, so it can still pump out the decibels even after other all-in-one kits are relegated to the recycling pile.
Review Credibility: Very Good ConsumerReports.org tests, rates and ranks the Yamaha YHT-497BL, but discussion is limited and available only to subscribers.
Review: Yamaha YHT-497BL, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated
Review Credibility: Very Good More than 35 owners report high satisfaction with the Yamaha YHT-497. No rating falls below 4 out of 5 stars, and all say they would recommend the home theater system to a friend.
Review: Yamaha - 5.1-Ch. Home Theater System with Subwoofer, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of January 2013
Review Credibility: Very Good The Yamaha YHT-497 gets an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 from more than 20 owners here. Only one gives the system fewer than 4 stars because of an HDMI handshaking issue that was later partially resolved.
Review: Yamaha YHT-497 5.1-Channel Home Theater System, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of January 2013
4. What Hi-Fi?
Review Credibility: Very Good Britain's What Hi-Fi? doesn't review the Yamaha YHT-497, but does evaluate the RX-V373 home theater receiver that lies at its core. Editors give it 5 stars out of 5 and name it best of the year in its price class. Sound quality for its class and ease of use are praised.
Review: Yamaha RX-V373, Editors of What Hi-Fi?, Not dated