Just get Cubase 5 (Or Cubase Studio 5 which is cheaper with less features).
As the VSTi I fucking recommend you the VSL Special Edition. The standard edition costs
less than 400$ and it sounds like a real orchestra. Better than Garritan or anything in that price area. :A
Cubase 5 announced a new feature: The VST Expression. You don't have to use Keyswitches anymore, you can add easily the articulations under the piano roll and it is easier than adding keyswitches!
And Vienna Instruments (VST) makes everything much easier. It's the sampler of the VSL samples and it knows when you're playing short notes or playing really fast. If you're playing short notes, you can make that program that it will play a staccato articulations. It even sees repetitions, trills and more. So you can add more than 1 instrument on a midi Channel. So you can keep your song realistic even if you're playing notes in! That's funny. ;)
Just go to:
There are the best softwares and VSTs on the market, trust me. ;)
And look at those tutorial videos on the VSL page about Vienna Instruments. So you can look at the feature and how to use them. If you have them, composing gets real easy. Cubase is popular because of it's great workflow and Steinberg celebrates it's 25th Birthday.
So I think Cubase is better than Sonar, because of major features and the unreached workflow.
And even official reviews had rated Cubase better than Sonar!
Just know how to spend the money best dude!
This is my plan! Do the same and you'll be very happy. :D
By the way: I don't mean offence on Sonar users. :3