Just for fun, I picked up an older tape deck and a VCR to see what interesting stuff was in them. Among the spoils were a number of motors, some nice switches, a nifty looking solenoid and a VU meter. The VU meter looked the most approachable, so I traced out the circuit for it and hooked it up to my stereo:
Its based around a nifty 7666p IC, which drives the LED VU bars. I had a bit of a tough time finding any relavent information about it on the web, but I did find one site (scroll to the bottom for the diagram). The only external components needed were a couple of caps (supposedly 4.7pf but I could only find 10pf). Schematic after the break.