Petennann  computed an "excess spontaneous emission factor" for gain-guided laser. In this paper, we investigate further the role of this factor. Such a factor also appears in the treatment of thermodynamic equilibrium in an attenuating medium-a seeming paradox. Further investigation shows that the excess spontaneous emission excitation at thermal equilibrium is cancelled by the excitations in the other modes which are correlated with that in the fundamental mode. In a medium with gain, cancellation also occurs in a short amplifier in which there is no gain discrimination among modes. The "excess spontaneous emission factor" is fully present only in a system in which the different higher order modes have an appreciably smaller gain than the lowest order mode, a high gain amplifier. An analysis of the signal-to-noise ratio of a high gain amplifier reveals that the excess noise factor can be fully compensated by proper input excitation by a lens arrangement. The lens arrangement provides the signal with an "excess gain" factor. An "excess gain" factor is also present when a thermal source is used.