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As someone who loves swimming (I go at my local gym several times per week) I have to say these really improve the overall experience. They're comfortable and easy to set up, and the sound quality is far above what I was expecting. It's also an interesting change to the usual echo-y atmosphere of having your ears filled with water.
When you're swimming for exercise purposes, these are great for playing the same sorts of songs you would usually use while running or cycling - you can kick your legs to the beat, etc. I found the time passed a lot quicker with something to concentrate on other than just my own breathing and the sound of water sloshing about.
Also absolutely lovely when swimming for relaxation - I put on some Enya and drifted about to a bit of Orinoco Flow - haven't felt so serene and floaty in years!
Swimming is one of my favourite ways to exercise and I usually swim three times a week. As I am the type of person who won't even go to the corner shop without listening to my ipod on the way, I have always really missed music while swimming and wished there was such thing as a waterproof MP3 player. I eventually discovered this one and I think it's one of the best things I've ever bought!
When looking for a way to listen to music in water, the options seem to be either a waterproof case to put your existing MP3 player in, which I was reluctant to try as I don't want to risk damaging my beloved ipod classic, a fully waterproof MP3 player plus waterproof headphones, or a one piece MP3 player with integrated headphones and which is worn as a kind of head set. This last option would describe the Merlin.
=== Ear buds ===
The Dooyoo picture shows how the Merlin looks. It is a one piece unit with everything integrated and no separate headphones. You simply put the ear buds into your ears, hooking the white frame around the top of your ears and around the back of your head. It comes with three different sizes of earbud for use while swimming so that if the earbuds feel a bit loose and not secure enough in your ear, you can change the size and find the one which stays firmly in. It also comes with three more earbuds in different sizes for use on land, but I have not tried these as I use the player purely for swimming. It is waterproof up to 1 metre depth.
Before choosing to buy this, I read quite a few reviews on Amazon of different waterproof MP3 players and one of the main complaints was earbuds not staying in properly while swimming. That seemed to be a massive issue for the Speedo Aquabeats player and was one of the main things which put me off that product (as well as the need to replace batteries in it).
I have been really pleased with how well the Merlin earbuds stay in my ears in the pool. They have never actually fallen out a single time! Occasionally at first I felt they were coming a little bit loose, but this was because I was paranoid about them coming out. The instructions suggest that if you want to make them even more secure you should wear goggles and put the goggle strap over the sides of the Merlin frame, effectively strapping the player to your head. I thought this might look a bit stupid but to be honest it doesn't look that strange and it is a really effective method of keeping the player perfectly in place. It works whether I actually wear the goggles or just put them on my head. When I do this I don't have to fiddle with the earbuds or player at all and can just get on with swimming.
I also like the fact the headphones are integrated as there are no wires getting in the way. I think headphone wires could be a bit off putting while swimming as I would have to be careful not to accidentally knock them out or watch out of them getting caught or tangled. I think the all in one headset style is better because it is simpler and more minimalist.
The sound from these ear buds is pretty good. Before using it I thought the sound from this might be a lot worse than a normal MP3 player but it is completely fine. The only thing is that sometimes after I have been swimming for a long time, the sound starts to become slightly quieter. It doesn't particularly bother me though when this happens and it is not a disturbance which would make me want to turn it off or stop swimming. The instruction leaflet does mention that this might happen and it is because a thin water film forms over the waterproof net inside the ear buds. This can easily be fixed by taking the ear buds off, squeezing the water out, and leaving it all to dry. When I have done this the sound was completely fine the next time I went swimming. I would advise taking the ear buds off and leaving everything to dry after each swim anyway, just to keep it all in good condition and dry any tiny bits of water inside it.
=== Controls ===
The controls are very simple and I can easily use them without taking the player off my head. On the top of the block on the right ear there are buttons to turn the volume up and down. On the bottom of that block there are buttons to skip to the next track or back to the previous one. In the middle on the side of the block there is a large play/pause button which you use by pressing once, or hold it down for a few seconds to turn it on and off.
There is no screen or anything fancy, but I don't require anything like that while swimming and I am happy with the ease of use of this, as I don't even need to stop moving to adjust the volume or skip songs.
=== Capacity and adding music ===
The capacity of this MP3 player is 4 GB which is over 1000 songs. I don't see this as a huge capacity as I am used to my 120 GB ipod classic, but for swimming it meets my needs perfectly well. I hardly need to take my whole music collection into the swimming pool. I prefer to just put a few hundred songs on at a time and have these as a playlist, then change them when I get bored. Personally I like to put various individial songs on rather than full albums, but there is no reason why you couldn't put albums on it. However you just have to bear in mind that it is hard to select specific songs to play unless you just keep pressing the skip button - and I would rather just skip the occasional song which I didn't fancy, rather than skip through entire albums.
Adding music is very easy. The player comes with a USB cable and when you attach it to the computer via the USB cable it is automatically recognised as an extrernal hard drive. You don't need to install anything and it does not have it's own special program or anything. You simply drag and drop or copy music from other folders elsewhere on your computer. You use it much like a USB stick and this is really very simple and pretty fool proof. Anyone who can cope with loading files onto a USB stick will be able to put music onto this MP3 player.
=== Battery ===
This MP3 player can be charged via the computer when you attach the USB cable. As it is rechargeable you don't need to replace the batteries in it, which for me is a definite plus as it is so much more convenient. The MP3 player works for about 8 hours before I recharge it.
=== Overall ===
I have been so pleased with this MP3 player and I get a lot of use out of it. It actually encourages me to swim even more than I did or to stay in the pool longer. Sometimes, before I had this, I would aim to swim for at least an hour but start to get bored after half an hour and get out after about 45 minutes. Now an hour goes by really quickly and I enjoy myself the whole time as I have some music to entertain me. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who swims a lot or who wants to swim more but gets a bit bored in the pool.
I actually have recommended this to quite a few people already as I kept getting asked about it at my local swimming pool.
This Merlin MP3 player now seems to be unavailable on Amazon, so I wonder if the people who asked me have all bought them! However it is worth checking back to see if they get more in stock, because from my research I think this really looked a lot better than the competition.
I paid around £45 for this, which I think was amazing value for money. When I bought it it was reduced and I think the full price was about £69. I think it is definitely worth it at full price too.