I’m more of a through composed via plugins and MIDI instruments DAW user as well.
I flirt with other DAWs on multiple platforms but haven’t found anything amazing enough to pull me away from Cubase on Windows.
When it comes to legacy support…nothing else on the market I’m aware of touches Cubase. I can still mix/match/sync gear from nine-teen eighty weird, while also implementing the bleeding edge plugin software of today. Scads of features and support that newer DAWs never had, and never will.
Cubase provides a lot of theory and musical tools that others don’t.
It has some nice groove engine abilities that others don’t.
If you want to work with video, it includes a lot of features to make your scores hit cues on the time track with precision (auto adjust timing to hit the cues).
If you want to sync with game engines, one can upgrade to Nuendo and get developer hooks for popular game creation engines, and retain compatibility with all the stuff made in Cubase. Nuendo can then help test, prepare, and package those game engine files.
On workflow, one has so many options. Out of the box Cubase is more or less a big empty skeleton. You get much flexibility in terms of project types and formats, and how you like to set up a work-flow. You get three mixer maps to set up for different needs in a project, plus preset options galore to change that stuff around on demand.
Over time, like with most any DAW, the individual learns to make presets, templates, macros, and other personal things that make work quicker and more precise. Cubase has enough macro and logic editing to transform it into a pretty ‘smart’ DAW.
When it comes to step-input, I fell in love with Cubase right away, as it has a no nonsense generic remote system that allows MIDI events to remote control pretty much anything in the DAW. I elected to teach the MPC pads on my controller to build a setup where I can do ‘step-entry’ without even having to touch my computer keyboard. I.E. Tap an MPC pad that set the next note entry to a whole note, tap a key and it goes into the score or key editor. Tap another pad for quarter note, tap a key. Etc, etc…
To me, the composer tools and legacy support are my favorite parts of the DAW. To some who mainly just want to track, sample edit, and mix efficiently…all that stuff is just ‘bloat’. They’re more interested having high level controls to automate the big mix-down without tinkering so much with theory and individual instruments and instrument-patches. So…what comes across as ‘bloat’ to some sound engineers, is solid gold to composers and content creators.
One thing I wish Cubase had but doesn’t, is some sort of advanced scripting engine. While it does have the combination of macros, project, and midi logic editors, sometimes I wish we could just do something like…bypass all the UIs involved in doing batch processing with Cubase, and instead write a lua script from the ground up.
I’d like to see the Logic Editors include more event types. I.E. all the special score symbols and whatnot.
I’d like improved XML import/export. It’s not terrible at this, but I’d love to see improvements. We keep getting features like ‘sample tracks’ and more sound plugins…but no love for things like better XML score support, advancements in the score editor, etc.
I’d like for Cubase to someday supply all the same editing/cycling features to the project automation lanes that MIDI tracks offer. I.E. Introspective recording on an Automation lane. Run a logic editor on an automation lane. Set some punch marks, cycle, and have multiple takes of the automation lanes stored on each pass. Using insert modifiers on the automation lanes (like the Auto LFO track insert for MIDI).
I’d like a few more automation lane types added. I.E. To toggle the monitor and record buttons. (I can work around the lack of a special lane by using MIDI Tracks > Virtual Port(s) > Generic Remote…but for something this simple, why don’t they just add automation lanes for those track controls?).
So, it ain’t perfect in every respect…but none of them are.