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Ratings sometimes come from suits instead of techs...

Output power ratings are usually part of the advertising to get the uneducated to choose one amp over another.

First off, your ear can't tell the difference between a 40 watt amp and a 50. You have to go up in BIG jumps! From a 20 watt Deluxe Reverb to a 50 watt Plexi to a 100 watt amp.

Second, a tech would rate the amp quite differently than a "suit". Also, you need to specify the application. For a hifi amp you want to know the maximum power out before you start to get even a trace of distortion. With a guitar amp you take a fair bit of distortion as normal!

Third, you can't forget about the speakers! Especially with a combo amp instead of just a head. Speakers vary big time in efficiency and tone. I put new Eminence 10" speakers in old 15 watt Gibsons all the time for customers. They sound a LOT louder!

Meanwhile, I've got a bluesman running 50 watts into a 4-10 cab stuffed with early 60's Oxford speakers. They aren't very loud for that power compared to the new Eminence series but they are loud enough and have TONS of tone!

Finally, bright amps sound louder to the human ear. That's just the way our ears work! It's the reason why an AC30 Vox cuts over the drums so easily at what seems to be a modest power rating.

It all comes down to being loud enough while having the tone you personally like!
 
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