I'm a big fan of Riffworks. This was my first DAW. I still am pretty much using Riffworks exclusively even though I have other DAW's now.
The format is simple - songs are written in Riffs... why not record in them?
The technique is very simple - create a new riff by clicking a button. Choose your InstantDrummer (btw, the InstantDrummer track is a separate track, and does not count towards your max of 24 tracks), choose the intensity and pattern, then switch over to the layers view and click "record". It defaults to 120BPM 4/4 time 8 Bars (all of which are editable). Sonoma offers hundreds of Instant Drummers, all in a large variety of styles and genres.
The record function will automatically start the first track after a 8 bar click, and upon reaching the end of the 8th bar will start recording the second track. If you're set up and ready to go, you can continue recording up to 24 tracks. Each track is pannable, and you can add effects to any track. Riffworks comes with a large built in number of very nice effects, including a two-step flange that pans one flange left and the other right. In headphones, its a VERY nice effect with one flange at the top of the cycle at the same tie the other is at the bottom. Delay, reverb, octaver, compression, filter & wah effects, as well as phase, chorus and flange - all built in.
Track names are all editable, as well as Riff names.
Do you want to have the riff repeated but with a minor change? Just click "duplicate riff". This will copy the entire riff, and you can then edit whatever in that riff you want changed (say, adding a harmony guitar part). This is a VERY cool time saving feature.
Did you make a string noise? click the info window and "draw" a peak down, and it will silence that errant noise.
To build your song, simply drag your riffs into the song layer window. I literally can create a completed 5 minute song with 4 guitar tracks per song, two lead guitar tracks, 2 to 4 synth tracks, all panned and mixed, in two hours. As a song writing tool, Riffworks is absolutely amazing.
An overlooked feature is the "notes" window you can use to write down guitar settings, and even what synth patches you used.
Riffworks also can play REX2 files, a very handy feature which many of the Riffworks afficianados use in their tunes posted on Riffworld, a free service to any musician, but designed to function with Riffworks. Literally, after finishing my two hours of recording, at the press of a button and lots of typing descriptive labels for the song (you can upload it without any description if you're in a hurry), your song can be uploaded in about 90 seconds for a 5 minute song.
The important thing to keep in mind is - Riffworks is fun to use. Songwriting and recording is enjoyable, and not a chore. Try Riffworks T4 for a month (the 4 track free version) and I guarantee you'll spring for the full version. I've written over 100 songs in 1 year on Riffworks, and uploaded 80 of them to Riffworld.
See the screen shot on the Sonoma website to get an idea of how easy it is - and try it. i've been urging Sonoma to add VSTi support (they do work with VST right now, but not VSTi) and MP3 import/WAV import. Riffworks does Rewire into many other DAW's.
Not having much experience with DAW's, Riffworks is very straightforward and allows you to quickly assemble a tune by layering loops of guitar and building riffs from these loops. One of the best features of the software is the InstantDrummer section which is basically a series of drum grooves which you can place in a riff. Each InstantDrummer contains a series of parts that you can choose from and each part can then be varied by rotating some control knobs. This lets you change the feel of a drum part or add to it's complexity so you can obtain a lot of different sounds from an InstantDrummer collection. There are plenty of InstantDrummers in all different styles you can purchase. If you find auditioning loops and assembling them into a song cumbersome then you will likely really appreciate the InstantDrummer function. If you already have a loop library you can import that but unfortunately the software only supports REX format. I'm pretty sure you can use the IMPORT function but the software works best if you stick to the InstantDrummer files.
They include a collection of built in VST effects which are top notch and are always available to add to a single Riff or an entire tune when you are ready to mix it down.
The Riff feature makes assembling a song quick but might limit users because it's difficult to have parts layer over each other.. i.e. you play a guitar solo and at the end of the riff that contains your solo you would like to sustain that last note over the next riff. This is not possible by recording this as a Riff but you instead have to switch to a "song layer". A song layer is essentially a track that spans the entire timeline, which is determined by how many Riffs you have dragged onto the song timeline. It's pretty easy to understand once you have played around for while but if you start to make changes to the order of Riffs then you have to re-record anything in the song layer as it won't line up with your changes any longer.
Anything you record can be Riffcast to Sonoma's Riffworld servers to share with others. They are behind the times as there is no support to directly to any other social website but you can just export the file and upload it on your own.
Their Rifflink service should be the killer feature as it allows users to collaborate over the internet in almost real time. You can't use this to jam live but as soon as you record a loop it is automatically uploaded to the servers so anyone else in the session will hear it moments after you record it. The only problem with the service is there doesn't seem to be a whole of of activity so you might have to wait a few days until someone opens your session and adds something to it. Seems most users are just content with recording on their own and using the free Riffcast feature instead of collaborating. It's $60/yr which is quite reasonable but becomes harder to justify if you post something and don't see anyone add to it for days.. Something like OHMStudio is much more active and Riffworld needs to shake something up if they want to sell Rifflink bundles.
The software has been on sale for $49 for several months now even thought their website says it was temporary.. for $49 it's a pretty good value and it does come with several full InstantDrummer session and 60 days of Rifflink service.