synapse audio orion (v.8.6)
This was my sequencer / DAW of choice from 2001-2015. I liked the fast workflow but also the power available in terms of mixing options. I also used to love the skinning facilty. Every time a new version comes out, the default skin got better and better, but I always made my own smaller versions of the mixer skin to maximise screen space.
playlist (including main taskbar)

 I liked the direct simplicity of this playlist. Also, because Orion is modular in terms of display, it was ideal for dual monitor setup. I kept the playlist on the left and the mixing desk and master mixer on the right hand screen, meaning I hardly ever had to open and close windows, except for instruments and effects. I colour coded my tracks as follows: black = drums & percussion / dark grey = bass / light grey = chords and pads / white = lead lines and riffs / yellow = section markers and blue = vocals
mixing desk

this is the default mixer skin with Orion 8.5, and I personally thought
it was the most attractive skin yet. but much too big to use, not
having a huge monitor personally. each strip was 80 pixels wide, which soon stacked up screen width on an average track.
this was commonly called the 'narrow' mixer strip. skins this
size were around for years on the orion forum and they were
popular wih some users. however, no-one made this size
for the previous couple of releases, so I decid
ed to make
them myself. each strip is 53 pixels wide, a big space saving
on the default skin.
this was my 'mini' mixer skin. some orion users said this was
useful for them, particularly with laptops, but most  found it too
small. I made skins this size for the last three versions, and
they save a load of space. the main benefit was that the strip
width is 40 pixels - exactly half the width of the default skin.
the mixer was improved in v 8.x - previously there were only 2 inserts, which changed to 3 (but still with an effect giving 4 inserts that can be inserted 3 times in each track = 12 inserts.)
the amount of buses was increased from 4 to 8, but to save the master mixer from looking enormous, the bus tracks only appear as you use them.
my favourite improvement, however, iwas a big space-saver; the eq section in each track could be hidden, which immediately removed 1/3 from the height of the mixer.
very economical! it meant I could have every track visible all the time, my preferred method when mixing.
favourite instruments

orion 8.5 had a large selection of instruments, mainly synths with 2 samplers and 3 drum machines.
I don't make out and out dance music and mostly used 3rd party instruments in my tracks, but I usually
rendered my programmed loops to .wav and then load them into the drumrack, shown to the left.
I even used this for vocals because I like being able to control the volume of every clip.
the drumrack came with multiple outputs and had the controls I need to replay loops.
I also used it for drum programming when using drum samples.

the acoustic grand was new in v.8x and was a simple and mix-effective piano.
I had a richer-sounding piano vst from native instruments but found myself forgetting to open it and just using the synapse piano - so it must have been good.

favourite effects

the vintage chorus had a fantastic thick sound, very close to old synth / guitar chorus fx.
i liked this much more than the average modern chorus effect.

the IR reverb was great, for me it opened a whole new direction of sound design, namely,
making my own impulse responses. rather than capturing actual spaces i have been
concentrating on making IRs of old bits of hardware. i started this with an old sony mono
cassette recorder which i bought for the purpose.

i did this after working on a project with a friend where he emailed me some mono tape
recordings of him playing his old piano (awful quality but with a great atmosphere) and asked
if i could turn them into a track. i loved the old piano / tape sound so much that i bought my
own little tape deck to make an IR from it. it's a great sound..

since the sony tape deck i have made IRs of an old PC desktop mic (clean and overdriven),
my aiwa tape deck (also clean and overdriven), my old mobile, and about 15 from my old
yamaha guitar pre-amp, including all the eq sliders (bass, mid, treble) and the effects
(spring reverb, tremelo and auto-wah). these home-made effects have so much character.