Use and Care
DDR Soft Pad FAQ
Types of Pads
Types of Soft Pads
Vendors and Pads
Use and Care
Modes of Failure
Types of Pads
This document should serve as a guide to help people decide which
category of Dance Dance Revolution pad they want to buy, and where to
buy it. I want
to keep this document relevant and up-to-date, so please send
your additions to me
. Additions will be of the most value if
they can fit within the framework of this document, and if they present
information in terms of the pads that we already know about.
See also the DDR Freak
Soft Pad Thread
There are three basic types of pads:
- soft pads
- hard pads - made of all plastic, these are worthless. They
break very easily
- metal pads - these have a metal frame, and metal, polycarbonate,
or acrylic arrow
Soft pads can further be divided into two styles:
- normal (thin)
- ignition-style (thick) - these pads have thick (2 cm to 1 inch)
foam inserts which can be inserted or removed by unzipping the
pad. These pads also have foam inserts glued under each of the
which raise them slightly.
Ignition-style pads are better than thin pads for several
reasons. The thick foam insert gives the pad more structure,
which helps to keep the pad flat and not wrinkle. This makes the
pad more accurate and durable. It also makes the pad easier on
your feet. The foam glued under the arrows makes the pad more
durable, and most importantly, lets you feel where the arrows are with
your feet, so that you never need to look down at the pad. The
pad's increased weight helps it to stay in one place on the floor.
Since ignition-style pads are so much better than thin pads, and cost
only a little more (at the cheapest), the rest of this document will be
devoted only to ignition-style pads.
Ignition-style pads do wear out, so if you find them wearing out more
quickly than you care to replace them, think about getting a metal
pad. They last longer. I personally prefer soft pads and
playing in socks, so I continue to buy new soft pads as my old ones
Soft pads are differentiated by these
- Shiny top surface.
The smooth vinyl of these pads can be sticky or slippery, depending on
your footwear: sticky for shoes, cotton socks, and bare
feet; slippery for polyester socks. You can tweak the
by choosing socks with a different cotton/polyester blend ratio.
- Textured top surface.
These pads will produce a bit of noise (like a record scratch) if you
slide your feet on them. They are somewhat slippery for any type
of sock, though you can probably tweak the slipperiness a little bit
with different types of socks, as above.
- Soft foam. Even
so-called "dense foam" is often really just soft foam. Between 2
cm and 1 inch thick, this foam is definitely easy on your feat,
but you will have a tendency to sink into the pad. This foam will
wear out in a few months of heavy game-play, before the pad itself in
most cases. Pad with foam weighs about 5 pounds. I prefer
2-cm foam over 1-inch foam, as you don't sink into the pad as much.
- Hard foam. 1-inch
thick hard foam still has some give to it, so it's not really hard on
your feet. It is much more resilient than soft foam, so the pad
will stay flatter (will not depress as much). This tends to make
the pad more responsive and durable. Hard foam lasts longer than
soft foam. It is recommended for all serious players. Pad
with foam weighs about 9 pounds.
Besides the properties described in the previous section, soft pads
tend to be very similar in construction and quality.
|RedOctane Ignition 2.0
|Not worth the money.
|Level Six 2.0
|This pad has thick inserts glued
under the arrows, such that the buttons are only activated with a lot
more force than the other pads require. It might be
o.k. if you are heavy or play in shoes.
|Level Six 3.1
|Same thick arrow inserts as
|BUYnSHOP Ultra DX-Xtreme
|DDR Nation Ignition 2.0
|Apparently the same as BUYnSHOP,
except for the soft foam. It appears that eBay seller discount-auction
sells these pads, but waiting for confirmation.
|CypherGames Ignition 1.0
|$30 or 2 for $50
|CypherGames Ignition 2.0
|$40 or 2 for $70
|2 for $47+ shipped
|You take your chances with eBay,
as the pads
seldom come with a warranty, and sometimes are of cheaper construction
than other pads.
|2 for $50 shipped
||These pads wore out very
quickly (1-2 months).
|Beware the thick
arrow inserts like Level Six pads.
|Beware the thick
arrow inserts like Level Six pads. Review.
Sells for less on eBay
|Level Six hard foam
|This is a great addition to any
pad with soft foam, and the
price with shipping is very reasonable.
DDRNation from eBay seller discount-auction.
2 for $50 shipped. Shiny top, soft foam.
3.0. When available from vortz
on eBay, 2 for $55 shipped. Hard foam. Beware the thick
inserts under arrows (read above)
top: DDR Nation
from eBay seller discount-auction.
2 for $50 shipped. Add Level Six hard foam, $10
shiny top: BUYnSHOP
Ultra DX-Xtreme. $49. Hard foam. This is probably the
same pad as DDR Nation, but it comes with hard foam and a 30-day
Avoid folding the pad. If
absolutely necessary, fold it like how it came in the box (2 horizontal
folds between the arrows).
Don't let the cord be pulled taut. Use an extension cable if
Put the pad on a hard surface. The pad flexes too much if you
put it on padded carpeting. If you have carpeting, put the pad on
a board. Secure the pad with tape or velcro, if you like.
The pad will wear out more quickly if you play in shoes.
The great thing about ignition-style
pads compared to thin pads is that they don't require modification to
play well and last a reasonable length of time. The following
modifications are strictly optional.
- Add hard foam.
Level Six's hard foam is highly recommended.
- Add padding on top of the hard
foam. Take any old non-slip soft pad, and cut out a
section of the bottom foam layer in the shape of your hard
foam. Insert this into your pad atop the hard foam. This
makes the pad slightly softer and easier on your feet, without
- Reinforce wires with tape.
Open the pad and cut around the perimeter of the thin white plastic
layer that covers the bottom of the pad. Be careful not to
puncture the layer underneath. Peel back the plastic so as to
expose the bottom circuit layer. Using clear plastic packing
tape, cover all of the wires and contact pads (the large areas
underneath each arrow), being very careful not to allow your taping to
preserve any creases or wrinkles in the plastic circuit layer.
This serves to strengthen the wires, remove creases in the wires (which
are prone to failure after long use), and remove and prevent
creases in the contacts, which could stick through the holes in the
foam towards the other circuit layer, causing sticking buttons.
Soft pads are made of soft materials,
which will not last forever. A good soft pad with hard foam
should last through 6-8 months of heavy daily game play. Beware
the modes of failure:
- Deformed / compressed soft foam.
Eventually the air gets squeezed out of the bubbles in the foam,
leaving it permanently compressed and not springy in some places.
Replace the foam, preferably with hard foam. Soft foam will wear
out after just a few months of heavy daily game play.
- Failed controller.
Failure of the electronics in the controller or a wire in the cable
will usually cause complete pad failure. Replace the entire
controller and cable with a spare from one of your old pads.
Failure of the controller electronics is uncommon. In some
cases the problem is the connection between the controller and the
pad: see this
- Unresponsive buttons.
A broken wire inside the pad will cause one or more buttons to stop
reacting some or all of the time. This is almost impossible to
This happens either when the foam between the circuit layers is ripped
or stretched, or when the circuit layers have wrinkles in them which
stick up (or down) towards the other layer and make contact through the
holes in the foam when they shouldn't. Ripped foam can be
replaced, though you'll need to seek out the right kind of foam and cut
the holes in it yourself. Wrinkles can be corrected by flattening
them and putting layers of clear tape atop them. Wrinkles in the
bottom circuit layer can be easily corrected, as this layer is easily
accessible. Wrinkles in the top layer are very hard to get
to. If your pad is suffering from either of these problems, it's
probably on its way out. A fix probably wouldn't keep the pad
alive for much longer. See this soft pad repair guide.
- Torn / cracked top surface.
The top surface will eventually get cracks in it from the repeated
flexing. Clear plastic packing tape atop the cracks will easily
correct this, and stick well if you have a shiny top surface. If
your pad is so worn as to have lots of cracks, it probably has only a
month or two left before the innards will be shredded to bits.
- Drifting arrow inserts.
Reportedly if the foam inserts glued under each arrow are not glued
well enough, they can drift. You could try to fix this yourself,
but you'd need to almost completely disassemble the pad to get to the
inserts. If it happens soon after your purchase, return the pad
for a replacement. I've never had this problem.
- Slow recovery.
Stepping on an arrow compresses the foam between the circuit layers,
causing them to touch at the holes in the foam. When you release
your foot, the foam expands, pushing the circuit layers apart and
opening the circuit. Sometimes quick or sustained repetition of
very hard presses (e.g., jumping with both feet) will compress the foam
so much that after you release your foot the foam doesn't expand
quickly enough to open the circuit in time for your next step, causing
you to miss that next step. This is hard to diagnose, because the
pad may work correctly for most of a song, and fail only during certain
sections. This may be caused by wrinkles in the circuit layer, or
ripped/stretched/compressed inner foam, which also cause sticking buttons. If the sticking button
fixes don't fix it, I don't know what will.
Thanks to vsamaco
for his original forum posts and additions to the FAQ.
Thanks also to everyone else on the DDR Freak forums who posted useful