Confessions of a DAW Virgin
SONAR X2 Producer is a greatly enhanced version of their Music Creator 6 program. If you do not like the look and feel of Music Creator 6 you will probably not like SONAR either. The Producer package contains a number of useful tools, sound effects and loops. The synths are pretty slick, however most of the presets, effects and loops are geared toward the Hip Hop genre. You will need a fast multicore processor and lots of RAM. The display can be a bit overwhelming on a single monitor. ( I am using two 17" Sony LCD screens side by side).
The sound bytes are good quality and may be used to embellish your creations, but they are difficult to join musically into anything more than brief phrases. Many of the synth effects are interesting, but extremely hard to control with a keyboard. Many of the effects are heavy with panning, phase shifting and fuzz tones. The names assigned to the synth tones are often not helpful when searching through the directories. I experienced some difficulties when attempting to copy and paste sound clips within the track view. Copied sound clips often ended up on the wrong instrument track or overlayed the existing data on another track. The quick editing tools are quite powerful and well designed. Conversion of the project to a wave file was a relatively simple process and the final results sounded pretty good.
Compared to ProTools MP9 I would say the layout of SONAR X2 makes more sense and the program is a bit easier to understand.
Using the same PC setup as a point of reference I would have to say that the synths in ProTools MP9 in MHO have a cleaner, clearer sound.
The audio library that comes with Protools is also more diversified.
On the down side ... Pro Tools appears to be more difficult to use, it's much more expensive and it requires the installation of ILock software and the use of a USB hardware key. I found the Cakewalk support to be far superior and that is an important consideration with such a complex piece of software. There is a lot of information in the Pro Tools database, but I found it to be mostly useless for the kinds of questions I had.. SONAR X2 is a relatively new entry in the DAW arena and is certain to improve overtime. Pro Tools on the other hand is a mature and very expensive professional package. I believe the Cakewalk team have created the core of a suite that may one day challenge ProTools as the Industry standard. SONAR is definitely worth considering if you are into the Hip Hop groove. SONAR X2 Producer, Studio or Essentials are definitely worth considering for use in a high end home studio set up. There are many excellent short videos on You Tube comparing all the major DAWs including SONAR, Protools, LOGIC, Ableton, FLA Studio and more. All of these DAWs have pros and cons, they all have many features in common. Each of these programs have their niche. I highly suggest you spend a few hours on You Tube. You'll save yourself a lot of heart ache and money.
I was a DAW virgin when I purchased Protools MP9. I gave up trying to use the program for over 6 months because I did not realize at the time of purchase that it required a very specific hardware interface just to allow the program to open. Some programs are Apple or PC specific. Some are geared towards musicians and song writers and others toward producers. I believe SONAR is a pretty good product, but there are many alternatives out there that may be more appropriate to your needs or budget. You may even find it worth spending approximately $40 for Cakewalk's Music Creator 6 to see if you like their concept before spending a lot of money and finding it's not what you needed. SONAR X2 has a much better sound engine and cleaner sounding bytes and effects and much greater capabilities, but the concept is the same.