Quick view: It is the closest to arcade experience. Those who are willing to invest more on the Dance Dance Revolution will surely get a metal dance mat and enjoy a play feeling quite different from the soft mats. First, you play on those with shoes, not barefoot or with socks, it makes a difference! Here is what it looks like:
The metal dance mats are best suited for the skilled DDR players. The stiff metal surface gives you the edge for
the quickest succession of arrows. Plus, the 15kg mat is not likely to slide on your floor during the game.
That is why the best players choose this kind of Dance Dance Revolution mats.
Intermediate players like myself can also be effective with a quality soft mat. The choice becomes a question of personal taste, either you look for the arcade feeling and hope to improve your game with the metal mat, or you stick to the comfort and silence of the foam inserted mat (yes, metal mats are noisy. Boum, Boum).
Most metal mats are proposed with a bar as an extra option. The bar allows the highest scores on the incredibly arrows-loaded titles; it helps keeping your equilibrium while smashing the mat like the score demo there. The price premium is usually little.
In the past years I have described several metal dance mats, which are not available anymore. I keep these descriptions on the site, maybe you could find them on the second-hand market?
The last solution for Europe in 2019!
Maty taneczne As far as I know, this polish webshop is your option to buy a dance mat in Europe, in 2019. They build mats made from wood, plastic and metal, costing around 150€ which sounds reasonable for a hard dance mat. I have some feedback from a danish reader (thx Aurin!), he is really pleased with this 20kg mat. You should take also the optional start and back buttons.
(Just went out of business in 2019 ?) Precision dance pads
Precision Dance Pads is a company created by a dedicated DDR fan who grew fed up of repairing his dance mats. There is quite some hype around his products, especially the Omega GX Dance mat. It is a light mat, 20lbs/9kgs. You can play bare feet on it. Actually it is a solid mat but not quite a metal mat, though the feeling is reported to be very close to the arcade. I would love to test one. The price is 300$ plus 150$ for overseas shipping. People living in Europe like me should consider finding other persons interested for a group buy. Shipping cost remains 150$ for several mats. Maybe in the DDR associations it is feasible to find other DDR enthousiasts ready to share the shipping costs.
Still available? PG Impact Arcade
This is the metal offer from the sweddish Positive Gaming. The Impact arcade is as expensive as the foam Impact is cheap. 695€! Are you joking guys? Actually they are targetting fitness club owners rather than the regular DDR player.
For this price you get a tough mat at a low weigth, 9kgs, thanks to the use of polycarbonate. You can grab the last mats available at Futuremax before the shop closes.
(Not available anymore) The first cheap metal mats: the TX series
We are talking about the historic player in the metal mat market. The various embodiments of the TX series have been around for years, the first being the TX1000 and TX2000. Despite this I still don't know who exactly build them. There is a wide range of product declining in no bar/bar models. For instance, the TX6000 is the TX4000 with a bar. Below are the price last seen on Futuremax but they can't be found there anymore.
- TX 1501/2501 for 150/200€ (that was 130/150 in february 2010!)
- TX 4000/6000 for, again, 150/200€ (same rise)
- TX 4500/6500 for 180/220€
On the other hand, they have a reputation of bad durability. I never experienced one myself, but the feeling one had
by reading the comments on the internet is not a feeling of confidence in the quality of construction.
The arrow validation system is quite simple. Think of two distinct electronic circuit, close to them but without making contact. They look like a labyrinth snail game. An aluminium sheet is glued below the arrow. You hit the arrow, it comes down, the aluminium makes contact between the two circuits, that is all! I own an old Logic3 working like this.
Problem arise with the oxydation of the circuits and when aluminium get stuck between the circuits. It gets some cleaning to keep working well. There is also a general concern about the arrows of the TX, brittle but replaceable.
Let us look a bit closer to the different models. There is very few comments on the TX1501(no bar)/TX2501(bar), it seems they are not widely spread. Plus, right now they are unavailable.
On the other hand the TX4000/6000 and TX4500/6500 are well known. The difference between the two lies in the arrows which, for the TX4500 mat, are slightly sinked in the mat (5mm). This helps finding the arrow with the foot, but some find it disturbing because they hit the edges of the sinked arrow. Other difference, the arrows are slightly softer on the TX4000.
The durability can be deceptive whatever the model.
(Not available anymore) The good quality/price value? Futuremax FitPro
This mat was released for a very short time by Futuremax and should be hard to find now. Maybe the second-hand market? It was available for 200€(no bar)/240€(bar).
For now there is very few feedback from buyers. If you own one, write me!
The design is different from the TX, and inspires more confidence concerning the durability. The validation mechanism relies on two heavy metal plates you make contact between when hitting the arrow. No more aluminium, but we should wait a little to know how well it lasts. The mat suffers from slight lacks of finishing care: surface scratches, irregular gaps between the arrows. Not very important though.
Like the TX4500, the arrows are a bit sinked in the mat. One reader wrote me he was greatly annoyed by this. He was used to soft mats and could not get use to the Fitpro.
As I like Futuremax soft mat offerings, I would like to trust them and advise this metal mats for those who cannot afford more expensive. The others, keep on reading ...
(Not available anymore) US high-end metal mats: Mymybox BlueShark versus Cobalt Flux
This is the upper range of price and quality.
Let us begin with the BlueShark, you should hurry up if you want one because Futuremax
is solding the very last pieces at the hugely discounted price of 200€ (okay there is also 88€ for shipping).
Should you jump at the occasion? Numerous players are totally devoted to this mat beacause its type of construction stands out of the competition and allows in-game feelings closest to the arcade. Arrows are validated by pressure detectors rather than the simple contact between two surfaces. Because of this the Blue Shark is kinda thick (2 inches, 5 centimeters).
The (big) downside is the quality of manufacturing which is very random. Arrows are breaking, screws are not in place... you should be aware by buying this mat will require some screwdriver work (at least) and you will not be able to rely on the aftersales services, as the mat is not produced anymore.
I recently had the opportunity to give this metal mat a shot as a friend of mine capitalized on the discounted price (and a temporary zero fare from Futuremax) to buy one. All the arrows go down a little as you put your foot, which really lets you "feel" that you hit it. This is very nice and from this I can understand the supporters of the Blue Shark. What disturbed me is the noise of the mat, which prevents a little from totally focusing on the music. I guess I am more about the foam dance mats. A little time after this my friend came across more and more problems with her mat, which seemed to be breaking apart everywhere. She decided to return it under guarantee... you were warned :)
The Cobalt Flux is considered as the top notch DDR instrument, and has fired up fans enthousiasm for years. Compared to the BlueShark, the contact mechanism is not as sophisticated, and looks like the Fitpro's. This is just two big metal plated entering in contact to establish the electric current. But its sensitivity is very good and, above all, it is known as the tougher DDR mat in the world. Unbreakable! Look below how it gets run over by a SUV and still works afterwards.
In addition to its great quality of fabrication the Cobalt Flux enjoys a good aftersales service and a pretty design.
Most of the Dance Dance Revolution pro players are satisfied with it.
The Cobalt Flux is not available in Europe. Dear US readers, you are lucky! For us europeans we need to import it from the official website. The buying price is not that expensive. You have several versions between 270 and 300$, whether it sports a bar or not, and whether you choose the regular or "arcade" version (no idea what the difference is).
Now the faring price cross the ocean is an additional 170$, whouch!!! Just pray the Euro returns to its highest rates...
Anyway, if you are really dedicated on the DDR and have bucks to spare, the Cobalt Flux is your choice.