Still, if you have some money to forkout (I think its between $75 to $100) I reccommend FL Studio. Simply the best (in my opinion) DAW around.
yeah, even despite it's great reputation, I still think FL Studio is one of the most underrated and underestimated DAWs around
it can do ANYTHING you'd want sonically. And everything is so intuitive with FL Studio once you learn it. The way you add effects, route tracks, arrange or record midi notes and controls, create beats, split audio, make loops, arrange songs. Everything is perfect. People put it into this loop creation category along with ACID. It's much more than that, although I haven't used anything that can hold a candle to FL Studio's loop creation interface.
but being loops to music creation and recording:
I've used everything from Cakewalk Sonar to Protools. FL Studio is what I use for everything, from Drum N Bass, to recording actual Rock Bands, to remixing songs, to straight Classical Music.
The plugin architecture is beautiful, and it's insanely fast.
I can have a track with hundreds of samples triggering together, along with DirectX instruments, EastWest simulated orchestral sounds streaming off the hard drive, all with their own individual dx effects on them, with nary a stutter in performance. The experience is exquisite. It's like pure music creation with no interference from the interface.
I thought it was perfect back in version 3, it's on 10 now, and it's been improved vastly with each new version.
as an added bonus. When you buy it you automatically get all future versions for free.
It's a beautiful thing.