Sonar has a steep learning curve too, partly because there are so many editing and FX functions available.
If you are on a budget you might want to look into Reaper. SonarX2 is pretty spendy for the full "Producer" version if you are a first time Cakewalk customer. It has extensive functionality without any of the add-on stuff like compressors or concrete limiters, but the add-ons sound great too.
But yeah, you are posting in the Sonar Forum so people are gonna say "buy Sonar".
I can say in my experience Sonar plays very well with other VST's as long as you put them where Sonar can find them.
I would also suggest watching the tutorial videos at the CW site. They are pretty short but cover a lot of the functionality and how to access different features.
"By the time these guys are finished people will be clamoring for death panels so they can petition for a mercy killing."