This project uses an LM3915 bar-graph IC driving two sets of ten LEDs for a 30dB range. The circuit is unique because it has an additional range of 20dB provided by an automatic gain control to allow it to be very sensitive to low sound levels but it increases its range 20dB for loud sounds. The LEDs are operating at 26mA each with the brightness control at maximum, which is very bright. The circuit has a switch to select the modes of operation: a moving dot of light, or a bar with a changing length.
My prototype has a little 9V Ni-Cad rechargeable battery in it to be portable and the battery is trickle-charged when the project is powered by a 9V AC-DC adapter.
1) The electret microphone is powered by and has a load of R1 from an LM2931 5V low-dropou