FWIW, I wouldn't say it's sterile or harsh....some people may hear it as 'sterile' because of it's lack of harmonic distortion, but that's the point of the HV3B section. IME they'll say the same about GML or Grace (although I could be wrong, just my personal findings). The tube section of the preamp is incredible (basically an M2B with a few more electronics, I've heard some people say the balanced output makes it sound cloudy, but that's a crock of s*** IME, but one man's cloudy is another man's too clean for their tastes). The tube portion of the preamp is a little different in it's texture compared to the solid state, a bit silkier with some obvious high frequency harmonics which makes it sound more extended in the top.
It's easy to hear the solid state version of the preamp in action, probably at least half of most modern classical recordings are done with Millennia Media preamps (I've seen some as far back as early/mid 90's I believe). I've heard a good many, and it sounds like the orchestra or choir in the room, not much more, not much less. The M2B/tube section just adds a little euphonic character to that philosophy of sound. To get opinions of the EQ go over to the mastering forum, ask guys like Bob Katz and Jay Frigilatto what they think about it. It's 99% the same as an NSEQ-2.
If you don't need the EQ or compressor, just get the M2B you won't regret it...in combo with the Manley mic it's going to sound lush and detailed.