Pete from Sparkfun made some digital level meters with a decidedly analog feel. Some op-amps and an ATMega168 on an LCD backpack board make the magic happen. –

Let’s first define the problem. I’ve got an AC signal that I need to turn into a simulated needle movement. Where am I going to get the signal from? The definition of a VU meter necessitates taking it from the source that’s driving the speakers. But I’ve got a thing about putting things parallel to my speakers, so instead I’ll take the signal from my computer audio output. That signal’s likely to be in the hundreds-of-millivolts range instead of volts to tens-of-volts, and it’s a lot more convenient logistically (my computer is closer to my desk than my amplifier). It’s already not a true VU meter. That lasted long.

Hey certified VU or not, it still looks cool. Read more from his adventures in pseudo-analog metering – Graphic LCD VU Meters