These days many home recording musicians as well as professional sound engineers choose to operate complex interfaces like that of Cakewalk Sonar with a help of the devices known as control surface. See this Wikipedia article on audio control surfaces for more information.

One of the more popular control surfaces is Taskam's FW1884 interface which, in addition to being a control surface, can also serve as a sound card with a mixing board and built-in preamps. See full description of Taskam FW1884 control surface at ZZounds.com, a popular online store for musicians and recording engineers alike.

Phil Muir, a frequent contributor to the JSonar project, has put together a FW1884 For Dummies Page that describes layout of FW1884 control surface, provides a list of shortcuts available and other accessibility tips and tricks related to the use of this surface.

Thanks Phil for putting this together.