After some extensive searching for getting my first DAW there really was no other choice than Sonar X2 Producer Edition. I think it's the most bang for the buck you can get with some classic synths such as Z3ta, Rapture and the combo synth/rompler Dimension Pro amongst others.I think it comes with about 20 virtual instruments.
Tons of effects for MIDI and audio including the new Breverb, R-Mix and the ProChannel.
The Skylight Interface is highly customizable and you can choose from many default settings or create your own so unlike other DAWs you're not stuck to one GUI.
Running on a Win7 64x OS with no problems at all. Haven't had a single problem with stability issues and although I might be limited in my frame of reference of working with other DAWs I know when something works good.
If the Matrix view would be as versatile as Live 9's there really isn't anything more I'd like to see different. Hopefully they will expand the possibilities of it to catch up with -let's face it- this great feature of Ableton but other than that Sonar is a full matured DAW with endless possibilites.
If you're a first timer looking for a full packaged DAW there really is no need to look further cause of all the extra's you get. If you're an experienced producer you'll probably find all you need and even more.
I used Cakewalk products a long time ago and just bought and tried Sonar. Unfortunately it's a mess. I hate the way that the MIDI editor works. It's very, very clunky and hard to use. And when editing midi, the editor does not even show you the extent of the part (clip) that you're working in. So very crude!
The rest of Sonar looks promising, but it's bundleware, much in the same way as Ableton. It's like creaky, rotting tree that's falling over from all of the fruit on its branches. More work is needed for the basic recording and editing of audio and MIDI to make sense and to be a constructive enterprise.
The new Skylight interface is clearly a lot better than the old one, but that's not enough. I used to use Windows Cakewalk, and the editing and arranging in that application was nice. It worked in a sane and intuitive way. I expected the same from Sonar X1 - and I did not get that.
I still have hopes for Sonar, but I'm returning Sonar X1. Maybe someday they'll tighten up the audio and MIDI editing to the point where I could use it. For now it's back to Cubase 6.
It's a drag not knowing how to use a tool, but unfair to blame the software for one's own lack of skill. It's like creaky rotting brain that's musty and crusty from lack of understanding, practice or enough interest to actually learn anything new. I'm just sayin'. . .
No doubt by now you've realized you bought too much software for what you want to do, and have either gone to a more basic cakewalk software package or bought something from another company like Fruity Loops.
Sonar is supposed to be a pro studio solution. Whether you agree with whether or not its up to the task doesn't change the fact that is the reason why it is designed to everything.
As far as the MIDI editor, your problems stemmed from not knowing how to use it. It is rather complex. The only thing crude about Sonar is their standard color scheme which are horrid.
OMG! I have been a SONAR user for years, and I just love it, very easy to use and the included plugins are a time saver, specially after I lost all my files and couldn't afford purchasing some old plugins again. (some companies don't have new 64-bits versions anyway) I just don't get why any user would say this, specially SONAR X2 things got just incredible easy to setup. Go figure... I use only SONAR and nothing else for my DAW, and the only extra plugins are my own Wusik plugins. ;-)
How about it William as I have been using Cakewalk since its inception. Sonar X3 is so damn smooth, so easy to get around and has features that are too many to list. Non customers do not know what they are missing.