Cakewalk is one of the most popular computer programs used by musicians.

There are three versions of Cakewalk. THe Home Studio version records up to 8 tracks of audio and MIDI data, and allows printing out the notation. The Home Studio version costs around $100US.

The next version is the Pro Audio, currently in version 9. This expands the Home Studio version to 128 tracks. It incorporates faster audio processor and mixing. Pro Audio also includes extensive MIDI features and a copy of Cakewalk's Guitar Studio for the guitarist (recording, editing, notation for guitar parts). This version lists for $429US, but can be found in larger stores for around $300US.

The top of the line version is the Pro Audio Deluxe. It includes the above Pro Audio system plus the Musician's Toolbox, which is two CDs of MIDI, tools and samples, and even video clips - over one gigabyte of multimedia data.

Anyone interested in creating high-quality music in a modest studio (even a virtual studio) should have a copy of Cakewalk. The list price is $529US, but it can be found for $380US.

Cakewalk does have a steep learning curve (especially the Pro Audio versions), but it is essential for creating and mixing quality tunes on your Wintel box. Of all the music-related programs on the market, this is the one I'd personally recommend you buy over all others.