The most modern sample-based synthesizers allow layering samples and waveforms. This is a pretty easy-to-use chance to get new sound colors even by using the trial-error method. Just use the ears to find out how the result sounds good or not when stacking two samples. Sometimes one sample instruments lacks a specific harmonic or the bass range is too weak. Then you can simply add a second sample that provides exactly this, adjust the amount by setting the right level and maybe that’s it. But it is good to know what happens here.
Both sample instruments come up with a harmonic content and when mixing them you will find out, that there is a increment of specific harmonics and levels of them on the one side and even decrement of others – what you did not expect. This might be the masking effect. When layering two sounds where a frequency range is identical, a masking effect will happen and it depends on the actual level how intense the masking is as it depends on the level of the concerned frequeny. If it is identical, the masking effect is 100%. You can use this if you want to eliminate a harmonic partial, just by layering to sounds.
This is not all. If you are using a sample-based synthesizer which allows individual envelope settings for each Oscillator you can even control the duration of this effects. Add or mask the harmonics you want simply by controlling the time duration, or even with a LFO if you want it with a bit „liveness“, for instance a low piano note that changes it’s harmonic spectrum during the decay time.
There are even more options. Is a sound a bit sterilely? This can happen with a sample when it works with a short sustain-loop. Then you can add a waveform that provides a periodic or random animation and adjust the level how intense the effect will be for the general sound.
This method works for many instruments from Grand Piano to Brass as well as Synths and even Drums. You like a Grand Piano sample but it lacks the bell tone in the upper range? Add one different and remove the remaining middle and lower ranges with the keyboard level scaling (Volume). You need a typical 80s D50 sound like the famous Fantasia factory preset? Select a soft airy pad synth sample and add a triangle or belltree or xylophone sample and care for the right envelope setting of it. Consider the above mentioned masking effect to lower specific harmonic partials.
Picture by uccs.edu.