Reaper - Rapid Environment for Audio Prototyping and Efficient Recording
Developed by Cockos Inc. (Justin Frankel ex.Nullsoft legend)http://www.cockos.com/reaper
Why it's good:
The developers listen to what is ask for in the forums and then actually do something about it.
Its a free 1mb download and takes a fraction of the time to start up compared to Sonar, Cubase, Logic and Audition.
Its dead easy to start using: simply drag and drop one of many kinds of files in to edit existing material, or insert a track and arm it for recording. No complex project or definitions to set up.
Lots of editing facilities: split, resize, fade/crossfade, pitch shift, timestretch, copy/paste and loop media items with ease. Ripple editing is available, too. (this is an awesome feature)
Unrivaled routing capabilities: send tracks to any number of other tracks or hardware outputs, with lots of options (pre-fx, post-fx, independent faders, mono or stereo). Not interested in advanced routing? You don't have to use it (and it certainly won't get in the way.)
Powerful recording options (supports pre-fx, post-fx recording, can record mixed output of multiple tracks, etc), supports switching record inputs/modes on the fly, input monitoring options (including tape-style auto input monitoring mode), supports auto-punch-in/punch-out, and more. If you want. Otherwise, it just behaves as you would expect.
Support for MIDI files, recording MIDI, and VSTi/DXi softsynths. MIDI can be integrated and mixed with audio.
User arrangeable user interface with color themes: make REAPER look how you want it to look (don't just settle for the default theme, check some of the bundled themes), and arrange (or hide) elements of the user interface to suit your needs.
Support for consolidating track edits and rendering track stems, to enable easy export for other applications.
And so much more with new features being added practically daily, just check out the change log!
It has made my copy of Sonar LE practically obselete! :D
Stop reading this and go and give it a go. You won't regret it!