Yes, the final result of using clear for the first layers and then using the satin or semi gloss for the top layer does produce a nicer finish with more depth. Sanding the next to last coat removes any bumps or imperfections that would show in the final layer without the worry of breaking through the stain layer, so I've found that my end result is way better this way. I don't have spray capability, so all of my staining and finishing is done by wiping with a lint free cloth. I don't use brushes, except sometimes if applying shellac.
This works for me. Others may have more or less success with it. Maybe someday I'll have the clean space needed for spray finishing, but now I clean the shop well before starting, and then do finishing only until the project finishing is done, before making sawdust again.
Central North Carolina