[Simon Inns] turned out this VU meter with a 16 RGB LEDs. He’s using three 16-bit TLC5940NTG LED drivers for the project. They’re not cheap chips but they do a great job. If you were looking to save on parts [Simon] found there’s more than enough brightness and any loss due to multiplexing would not be a problem. The device connects to a computer via USB thanks to the PIC 18F2550 which he’s used in his past VU meter projects. One of the design choices he made was to use a switching power supply. The LM2576 (datasheet) has no problem sourcing 3A at 5V and in addition to two electrolytic capacitors which are commonly used with linear regulators, you just need to add a diode and an inductor.
The meter offers several different configurations which are set on the PC side of things. These include the colors that are used and if the entire bars is used as one meter or split into sections to display both audio channels. Check it out after the break.