In the professional world, Pro Tools is still the production software of choice. You’d be hard pushed to find a record in the charts that wasn’t recorded with it. Although SE is a very stripped down version, it’s stripped down to the essence of a very stable core.
Recording is simple - for audio, select one of the two inputs and punch into record. For an instrument, arm the track, hit record and play your keyboard. All the tools are present for editing your performance and there’s more-or-less instant Elastic Audio capability to analyse your playing and then quantise it into time which is sure to make you feel good about your playing ability.
This elasticity extends to the Loop window, which allows you to audition loops in time with the track and drop the ones you want into the edit window. Automation of volume, pan and mute as well as plug-in parameters is here too. And you have channel strip settings with preset plug-ins to strap across your audio tracks (for instant heavy metal guitar for example). Plug-ins are all Pro Tools natives and cover all that you’ll need - from guitar amps to reverb.
There’s a lot of functionality within SE, but what you may well soon find frustrating is navigating your way around, especially if you’re laptop/tracker pad bound. Learning the key command shortcuts will ease some of the pain, but quantising, for example, for which there isn’t a key command, is hidden away under three layers of menus.
Other setbacks include: no edit window for the software instruments (they are what they are, although they’re generally very useable - there’s a great grand piano, for example); no ‘copy and drag’ editing; and no mixer window. There’s no scrolling through presets with a toggle (you have to dig into menus - again a pain on a laptop); no grouping of tracks for combined editing; and the track heights are fixed so you can only see so much of the whole ‘action’.
Also, you can’t overdub MIDI to the same Instrument track or have the facility of extra MIDI tracks to target the same software instrument, which means you have to record the part all in one go or waste one of your eight instrument tracks on a duplicate.