So i've been messing around with my workflow lately... swapping out synth plugins for external synths (still using VazMod though
) and looking at what works best.
I haven't tried ProTools, Cubase or Studio One but I have tried the following DAWs:
Logic 9 + Mainstage - Workflow not to my taste though undoubtably powerful. Too much setup time before using - seems to be better for virtual stuff though Mainstage adds an interesting live workflow (that is again not to my taste)
Digital Performer 8 - I had a go at the trial of this and gave up after a week. It is super hefty and not immediately intuitive. If I was getting paid to do sound design I would spend more time trying to learn this as the "Chunks" workflow seems to really suit working on short bits of sound. As a part-time sound lecturer with occasional projects i'm too much a hobby musician to justify it. Still... it looks good.
Ableton 9 - I had gone off Ableton 8 so was surprised to hear that a largish game design studio had adopted Live 9 as their primary DAW. It actually seems to me to be very stable and runs super light on CPU and RAM. This is currently the most useful DAW for arrangement and live usage though I would not use it for mixing and production. It has more than enough versatility and with Max For Live and the full Max/MSP/Jitter/Gen product I think a fair amount of future proofing.
Numerology 3 - This one is designed to be used for controlling external (and internal) synths and with a Launchpad is an easy to use and very fun step sequencer with extras (like flexible routing, multiple AU hosting, separate channel recording.) I was hoping I could use this instead of Ableton 9 as it has exactly what I want... alas there is some kind of bug in the Aux Send which adds a buzz I can't get rid of into my output and send/return routing. Which kills it for me. Hopefully the creator can fix this.
Reaper 4 - I've used this since the start of version 3 and paid for it at Reaper 4. It has some quirks that are awesome and some that are annoying but any other DAW I use has to be AT LEAST as good as Reaper before I dump it. It's pretty easy to get started in but probably the main annoying thing is the routing is difficult and annoying (not as difficult as Logic but also seemingly not as useful) In the experimental music and computer game / installation sound art area that I somewhat fit into... I don't know anyone that uses ProTools. Everyone either uses this or Audition (see below)
Tracktion 4 - Routing is great - workflow is a bit confusing. Compared to Reaper I found it difficult to use but it certainly seemed promising for the price. I would compare this to Mulab.
Mulab 5 - if I needed a self-contained DAW equivalent with equal emphasis on Audio and MIDI this would be the one. Reminds me of what i've seen of Fruity Loops but with a smaller footprint and much cheaper. Being able to modularise most of the generators or effects is very nice.
Adobe Audition CC - I remember using Cool Edit Pro a decade ago and it was "the shit!" Audition is a buggy piece of crap but for me it competes with Reaper as it adds a few useful features (integrated wavefile editing, excellent noise reduction). From what I gather it is only useful for mixing / mastering though - I've no idea how to get midi working on it or even if it is possible.
Usine Hollyhock - it is a stretch perhaps calling this a DAW but it does feature RACKS so... This seems to be the future (from my perspective) of creation. It's similar in idea to Mulab in that you can modularise everything but it happily chucks out any need for timeline based production. It's some parts of Audiomulch and Bidule with the depth of Max/MSP. I would say it is still heavily in development though. The previous version (5) has 1000s of DIY modules built by users with the SDK. If the same goes for Hollyhock then it will be an awesome tool but at the moment it seems relatively slight
All my opinions and i'm probably wrong on some things.