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.