How do I play DDR without upsetting the neighbors?
January 23, 2008 3:47 AM   Subscribe

I'm in a second floor apartment with touchy neighbors. How do I play DDR more quietly?

I've already checked the threads with DDR tags, but can't find much advice on actually quieting down my play. Are there any tricks to step lighter or muffle footfalls? Would it help to tape down a square of carpet under the pad? I'm using a standard XBOX pad.
posted by ®@ to Technology (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have they complained already? Perhaps scheduling is the answer - tell them you want to use it as a workout, perhaps daily for an hour or two and ask when the best time would be.
posted by thilmony at 4:07 AM on January 23, 2008

It's tough. I stopped playing because it rattles everything in the living room and I'm in my own house (crawlspace foundation). If you're a relative beginner who stomps every step and lifts up your foot after step, then you'll need to learn to step a little more softly anyway to get better. (If you've already figured this out, then ignore this advice.) Thinking of each arrow on the screen as when to put down your foot (as opposed to when to press the button with your foot) will make your gameplay quieter and more effective. Whenever possible, walk from button to button instead of pressing the button and moving back to the center.

Unfortunately, most intermediate to advanced songs require at least a little bit of jumping around (two-arrow steps) so this advice is only slightly useful.

There used to be a Youtube video of some guy who can play with his feet on the corners between up and right and between left and down, just rocking back and forth, not visibly moving. Would have made for a great punchline to this semi-answer, but I can't find it anymore.
posted by ErWenn at 4:27 AM on January 23, 2008

Could you coordinate with them so you play while they're out, or schedule it with them somehow? They might not mind if you say, Hey, I'm going to be really loud for an hour -- would you prefer a certain time? I have had loud upstairs neighbors before and just knowing when it was going to happen would help, as well as knowing they were trying to be considerate. Granted you should be able to do whatever you want when you want in your apartment, of course.

Sorry, I realize that's not a direct answer to your question, just my experience!
posted by Hey, Cupcake! at 5:27 AM on January 23, 2008

I would try a mat below the pad, there's a popular thread running throughout the gaming community about quieting the rock band drums with mouse pads, although the motion is inverted in your case. It really depends how big you are and how much vibration is dispersed into the floor, if it's just a bunch of tapping I think a mat would help but if it's a rumbling joists I think you're out of luck.
posted by prostyle at 6:18 AM on January 23, 2008

Step up to one of the third-party pads with a foam insert. They're quieter, more comfortable, and have better response than the stock Konami pads.
posted by Prospero at 6:24 AM on January 23, 2008

Hey, Cupcake! - Granted you should be able to do whatever you want when you want in your apartment, of course.

I disagree. If your activities disturb your neighbors, they shouldn't be allowed. That is why this question was asked.

®@ - How sturdy is your apartment building? I used to live in a second floor apartment, and we couldn't play DDR there at all, because it was too flimsy. The third floor neighbors would vibrate our apartment just walking around normally(if a bit heavy-footed). If your building is sturdy so that you're not shaking the walls, check with your neighbors to find out if there's a certain time of day that they would(n't) mind you playing. Maybe they wouldn't mind it between 4 and 8 in the evening, or maybe they don't care at all as long as it's not from 10pm - 8am. You'll never know if you don't ask. Secondly, as Prospero points out, a foam pad can really soften the impact, but they also feel different underneath your feet.

The least economical suggestion would be to take up playing in an arcade instead of at home.

I wish my neighbors were as considerate as you!
posted by owtytrof at 6:55 AM on January 23, 2008

If you're really motivated, go to a Home Depot or similar and get an empty pallet, and maybe a piece of particle board to attach to the top and make it solid. Tape your DDR mats to the top and the structure below will absorb a lot of the impact.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 7:01 AM on January 23, 2008

I've read on some pad-related discussions that you can get thick foam inserts to put underneath your pad...not sure exactly what kind of material to use, but I've heard that the stuff they make couch cushions out of works really well. Even something as simple as a thick area rug, easy enough to move/remove, should have a big impact on your pedal impacts. Makes it easier on your feet, too.
posted by baphomet at 7:35 AM on January 23, 2008

What you need is some Dynamat or similar noise/shock/vibration absorbing material. Then you need a means to attach the DDR pad to the absorbing material. A mere extra layer of carpet or regular foam isn't going to work. Dynamat isn't too expensive so you can probably get a piece and try it out with the cooperation of your neighbors.

If that fails, and if you're serious about your DDR and mechanically inclined, I can imagine a more through setup like this:

0) a large piece of Dynamat or similar material
1) four vertical shock absorbers (like the type found on your car) supporting
2) a rigid horizontal surface approximately the size of the DDR pad
3) another layer of Dynamat or similar material on top of the surface
4) the DDR pad on top of the Dynamat

Basically you'd make a raised playing surface that absorbed the impact of your steps while also providing multiple layers of Dynamat for noise control. If the playing surface were more than a couple inches off the ground, you'd probably also want guard rails, just to be safe.
posted by jedicus at 7:35 AM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

By "type found on your car" I was just explaining what I meant by shock absorbers. You wouldn't want to use an automotive shock absorber because it would almost certainly be too stiff and too expensive, but you get the idea.
posted by jedicus at 7:36 AM on January 23, 2008

I think you're giving Dynamat a lot more credit than it deserves. It's a great sound insulator but it isn't going to help with noise associated with the physical impact transmitted through the floor, at least not any more than any other soft substance. I'd be more inclined to try putting down something like interlocking flooring on top of a layer of carpeting. Disperse the impacts then muffle & disperse them.
posted by phearlez at 7:45 AM on January 23, 2008

I had this problem a long time ago and as a cheap solution I put my couch cushions side-by-side on the ground then placed a large piece of plywood (nearly stock 8'x4') on top, since the cushions weren't perfectly flat. With two DDR pads on it, this was a less than ideal solution. First of all, it was difficult to balance, especially if you have two uncoordinated or different-sized players jumping on the entire setup. Since separate cushions were used to absorb shock, cushions that depressed more or less than the other one tended to tilt the plywood surface in a way that none of players expect, and people were spending more time trying to regain their balance than dance. Secondly, absorbing the shock of your steps actually just makes it all that much harder to move, because you need to apply that much more force to lift your feet-- it's kind of like how walking up stairs or walking through snow takes more effort than walking on firm ground. And after all that, it wasn't like we were actually making any less noise.

If I had better cushions, I probably could have resolved problem #1. Tempurpedic mattresses come to mind, but I've never slept on one or jumped on one to be certain of its behavior (I just know it from the commercials). Also, I'm not sure if any cushion could resolve problem #2.

So... I stopped playing. I hope my failures in this area are just as enlightening, and good luck. Maybe if you find something that really works, I can take my pads back out of the closet!
posted by lou at 8:10 AM on January 23, 2008

Do not use dynamat or other car audio sound deadening products, as these are used to add mass to vibrating thin metal plates (car doors, trunks, etc) and will not at all help you with floors or walls in a home application. Great for making your doors not vibrate, a sticky/useless mess on your floor.

The foam padding mentioned above is a much more reasonable option.
posted by morallybass at 10:40 AM on January 23, 2008 This is why you don't want to continue to antagonize your can end up in court or evicted...can't you play at a the home a first floor dwelling friend? Or invite the neighbors up to play with you :)
posted by legotech at 12:33 PM on January 23, 2008

The problem is the stomping (er, dancing) makes very low frequency sound which is notoriously difficult to block. I tried placing my pads on a plywood/sofa-foam sandwich. There was around 100 pounds of mass on top of the foam (heavy particleboard hard pads). Still bothered the neighbors like crazy PLUS it felt mushy/wobbly.

The only real solution is to coordinate with your neighbor's schedule and play when it doesn't disturb them. Make sure they have your phone number, and emphasize that you don't want to bother them, and that you want them to call when you are, so that you can stop.
posted by aubilenon at 1:43 PM on January 23, 2008

I agree Hey, Cupcake!; try scheduling it with your neighbors if they've complained.

My friend in college really pissed off the people living below him with his incessant DDR-ing, so he asked them if he could play when they were at class during the day and it worked out well.

Other than that, it seems there aren't a lot of options for insulating the sound of jumping on the floor.
posted by fan_of_all_things_small at 4:21 PM on January 23, 2008

These are all really useful, especially the Pallet suggestion (and the foam mats).

Schedule-wise I'm a bit screwed, leave for work before 8am and rarely get home before 7:30pm, so I'll be bugging them whether it's early or late.

Coordinating will not work either, as the neighbors do not speak english (the last time we interacted, one came up and yelled at me in what I think was Portuguese; I didn't understand what they were upset about until they made a rapid "dancing" motion with their hands). Also this was at 11am on a Saturday, which I think would be pretty neutral day.

I'll check out the idea of a pallet and or couch cushion... I might be able to drag over my futon and try that out as well.
posted by ®@ at 6:03 PM on January 23, 2008

I would purchase some egg crate foam and a piece of sturdy plywood to go over it. I have the same problem in my apartment. Like me, your subfloor is probably thin enough that it flexes. The foam will dampen any sound and, coupled with the hard, stable surface, will distribute your weight evenly over a large surface.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:21 PM on January 23, 2008

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