Well, I might probably find more stuff the more I think of it, but right now there are a few things I can't live without (in no specific order);
- Good surround panning
- Automation capable plugin system in absolute realtime (though latency of course is acceptable to some extent)
- Dynamic processing
- Freehand waveform redraw
- Good filters
- Realistic though not necessarily naturalistic reverb
- Possibility of outboard connection
- Full (and working) AAF/OMF
- Reliable timecode, SMPTE via both LTC and MTC without fuzz (the bad fuzz, that is)
- A reliable and easy to configure video-system
- Total reliability. Period
- Logical, easily accessible design on interface, that doesn't just piss me off no matter how well I know it (still hate several early sequencers I had on my Atari before finding Pro 24, and later Cubase...)
- As close to bit transparency as possible
- Good Broadcast Wave-compatible file library software with meta-tagging and reading (MediaBay in Nuendo)
Of course the plugins, processors, reverb and filters don't really need to be bundled with the DAW as such (and the ones that are are a little too often not very good, like the filters in Nuendo), but at least a few useful ones for good measure's not too much to ask for I'd say.
I work much more with sources, extreme layering and microphone techniques than pure effects, so for me, personally, I most of all need high precision editing tools and "tamers", so to say. IE plugs like compressors, limiters, filters and gates to keep the material more contained and kept to the curb. Not to mention pitchshifters.
That was the bare essentials (of what I can think of right now), add to that Distortions, grainers, vocoders, physical modeling, external controllers, muxing, and every modulating and delay-based effect known to man (or woman ;-)), and you'll get me very happy!
Jeez, to think that I started out with a really early version of SAW (later SAW Pro, though not that much of a difference) with nothing more than simple editing and some non-realtime effects...