DDR at Home FAQs

Introduction

Playing DDR and other dance games at home is a fun and effective form of exergaming! With an endless music selection and skill ceiling, as well as a vibrant and helpful online community, it’s a fulfilling hobby with a rather low barrier to entry.

This post answers some of the most common questions posed by the DDR players and DDR + ITG Players groups on Facebook. It’s broken into three sections:

  • Dance pad ownership – unless you feel like being a keyboard warrior, a dance pad is the only necessary part of your setup.
  • StepMania questions – learn about the computer software you’ll need to play songs.
  • For arcade cabinet owners – common questions from those who have taken the ultimate step toward becoming a dancing master with a home machine.

Table of Contents

Dance pad ownership

What sort of soft pad should I buy?

DDRGame “super deluxe” foam pads are pretty much the only new option nowadays, although you’re rolling the dice as build quality isn’t the best. It’s been said that their Tough pads hold up better than their Energy pads, although the latter is cheaper. You can also attempt to mount slim pads without foam onto plywood using double-sided tape. If you’re looking to play difficulties of DDR Level-14 or ITG 10 and above, you should consider hard pads.

What sort of hard pad should I buy?

Your choices are:

  • L-Tek pads ($350+ with international shipping)
  • StepManiaX pads (almost always sold out, ~$1,700 per pad)
  • arcade machines or pads (auctions or private sales)

Don’t buy DDRGame metal pads. Please see this video and flowchart for more info.

If you are looking to play an L-Tek with PlayStation games, you might consider this control box.

You can also build a travel-size pad for less than $200 by following this guide.

What sort of bar should I get?

Most modern arcade players use the bar behind the dance pad to distribute their weight. For home use, you have a few choices.

The L-Tek handbar is known to wobble. Without resorting to using a chair, you can buy some 1” black steel pipe and attach it to some plywood sitting underneath the pad:

StepManiaX pads come with a bar, but it can be too high for shorter players. The adjustable bar is $200.

How do I increase sensitivity of my L-Tek?

Penny-modding increases sensitivity on certain dance pads. Here is how to mod an L-Tek pad. You can also buy these improved copper strips to avoid pennies shifting.

How much should I pay for an arcade cabinet?

It depends on the model, but the average price in 2022 is about $2,500, give or take a couple thousand.

How do I insulate my pads for apartment play?

Try this guide.

StepMania questions

If you’re looking to play dance songs on your PC, StepMania is the de facto dance game simulator, available for Windows, Linux, and macOS.

Of note, there is also an official version of DDR for Windows, called DanceDanceRevolution GRAND PRIX. It has subscription and/or ticket-based play – here’s a guide on setting it up.

What StepMania 5 theme should I use?

A favorite is Simply Love – there’s a great guide on setting it up. If you want a great twist on DDR, try the DDR XX -starlight- theme.

What sort of PC do I need for StepMania?

Any PC will work for StepMania with Simply Love. Don’t worry about specs. You can get a cheap used $25 PC off eBay and you’ll be fine.

If you want to run fancy themes or play songs with a lot of effects, you should probably get at least 8GB of RAM. A SSD will also significantly improve load times. If you have a high refresh rate monitor (over 60hz), a dedicated graphics card or AMD APU will improve frame rates.

What monitor should I get for StepMania?

For high level play, look for good PC monitor features such as 144hz+, FreeSync/G-Sync, and low latency. This 32″ LG monitor is especially popular. See also.

Where do I find DDR simfiles?

Zenius-I-vanisher.

Where do I find modern ITG simfiles?

The ITG Packs Release Spreadsheet. Try the ones on the Beginner Packs sheet.

For arcade cabinet owners

Join the Private Dance Games Arcade Owner group if you haven’t.

How do I install StepMania into my cab?

Follow my guide.

What sort of LCD should I put inside my DDR cab?

LCD monitors are great for StepMania and newer versions of DDR. The biggest LCD that will fit in J-cabs is a Dell UltraSharp 30″ monitor. Specifically, 3007WFP is old but cheaply available. Newer models U3014 or UP3017 should fit as well. K-cabs have slightly less horizontal clearance, and can only accommodate 27″ monitors.

What sort of LCD should I put in front of my DDR cab?

You have a lot of choices. For official DDR, many are happy with a 42” Wells Gardner display that’s used in other arcade cabinets, but basically any TV display is fine. A cheaper option is the TCL S405 series. For StepMania, see also.

How do I mount an LCD in front of my DDR cab?

Use this mounting kit and protect the surface of your cab with some EVA foam between it and the LCD.

Where do I get replacement pad parts, custom arrow panels, stickers, or marquee posters?

What other improvements or customizations can I do to my cab?

Check out HackMyCab.

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