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At the Monterey Pop Festival, the legendary Jimi Hendrix reportedly one-upped The Who by setting fire to his guitar and his amplifier. The legendary – but fictional – Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap boasted of having an amp that “goes to 11.” Of course, those aren’t the kind of amps covered by the FTC’s Amplifier Rule. But industry members and home audiophiles will want to take note as the FTC’s ongoing regulatory review process tunes in to the future of the Rule.

The FTC’s Trade Regulation Rule Relating to Power Output Claims for Amplifiers Utilized in Home Entertainment Products – a/k/a the Amplifier Rule – has been around since 1974. It covers a variety of express and implied claims about power output, power frequency response, and distortion capability for “amplification equipment manufactured or sold for home entertainment purposes,” including radios, record and tape players, component audio amplifiers, multimedia systems, etc.

Before the Rule took effect, advertisers used different measurements when they made claims – for example, when referring to a product as “x number of watts.” As a result, consumers serious about sound couldn’t make apples-to-apples comparisons when shopping for equipment. By putting uniform, industry-adopted test procedures in place and requiring certain disclosures, the Rule made it easier for people to buy home audio gear suited to their needs.

The Federal Register Notice poses questions the FTC typically asks when considering the future of rules and guides. Is there a continuing need for the Rule? What are the benefits and costs to consumers and businesses, including small businesses? What modifications, if any, should be made to the Rule to account for changes in technology or economic conditions? You’ll want to read the Notice for details, including the specific things we’re asking about the Amplifier Rule. Coincidentally enough, our list of questions “goes to 11,” too.

The Notice includes instructions on how to file your comments online. Once the Notice appears in the Federal Register, you’ll have 60 days to respond. We look forward to your feedback.

In the meantime, ‘scuse us while we kiss the sky.

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