Awhile ago when I started in the music writing field, I searched forever to find the right DAW (Digital Audio Workstation - a fancy name for a program you use to make write/record music...) that suited my needs. I found stuff like Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic, and FL Studio, but somehow they seemed impossible to write anything with because it took way too much time to do even the simplest task. Not to mention that each one cost $300+! I didn't have that kind of money!
I finally came across something called Mixcraft 4 by a company called Acoustica. It was only $40! quickly downloaded the demo which was only about 50 megabye. It rocked! It came with tons of free loops that it automaticalled downloaded when you chose to use it (so no 3GB download that takes forever and a day to get!) and also a huge library of virtual insturments that sounded much better than stock MIDI instruments. VST effects and VST instruments are all completly compatible with it as well, so I headed over to KVRAudio.com and got a few free ones. The result - After I bought a small Behringer mixer and a couple mics (look out for reviews of those!), I had a complete home studio for less than $300 - most DAWs alone cost more than that!
The one problem I have with Mixcraft is that there is no send effect feature, which is necessary in most vocoders and complicated effects. However, the support is amazing with Acoustica and they update very often. The new version, Mixcraft 5, is hopefully going to come out soon and I believe that they are adding that to the new version.
I completely recommend this product to anyone who needs a good DAW for recording and writing music and doesn't want to spend alot. Happy writing!