I know nothing about Sonar. Cubase can be complicated because it does so much. Cubase 7 is really cool but it can be a bunny hole for time, but then anything fun is.
I am an active Cubase 6 user. I do not have any experience on Cubase 7 but have viewed the demos and am considering purchasing it. The GUI is different than 6 or 6.5. I have recorded on Pro Tools and actively use Cubase. Most of the DAWS I have seen do basically the same functions - they record, edit, mix, midi (some better than others) and light mastering. What is different is the work flow. I have downloaded the demo for Sonar before and did not like it because the work flow was different from Cubase. When I first learned Cubase I began with Cubase LE. Then went to Cubase 5. When I went to 5 I watched the DVD on how to use it, watched it again and took notes, then studied my notes while actually using Cubase to help with the learning curve. Most all of the DAWS I have actually used (or was recorded on with an engineer) have a learning curve. I like Cubase 6 (and 5) because I am familiar with the work flow of the DAW and it makes sense to me. I have made recordings from my home studio which were "radio ready" and have gotten play on the radio and XM. Remember that DAWS are tools that you have to learn to be comfortable with. Cubase 6 can clog a CPU if you put too many effects on separate channels. You need to use an FX group channel. Cubase 6 takes MIDI fairly well. I usually record drums on midi with a trigger and then edit to fit my song. Editing MIDI is fairly straight forward. You can convert audio files to MIDI. This is great for editing or changing note values. You can print scores with music notation, although this does require a bit more studying on how to make it user friendly with the end product. I primarily use the stock drum sounds for midi and then spend several hours "tweeking" the drum tracks to make them sound real. You can dissolve the midi drum tracks to edit each drum part on a separate "lane" or track.
I have heard that some DAWS have better algorithms for making their DAW sound more real on audio recordings. I honestly can't tell any difference. But, I am not spending hours A/B'ing tracks from different DAWS just to find the answer to that. My suggestion is to look at the work flow of Sonar and Cubase and figure out which one makes sense to you. Buy it, then get all the training DVD's you can (youtube is filled with this stuff) and go to school to learn your DAW.
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