Linear acoustic theory is used for estimating the acoustical performance of the air cleaner box composed of the porous filter and encasing box in the engine intake system. The pleated filter structure is modeled as coupled multiple ducts having permeable micro-perforated walls and rectangular section, in which each duct area is assumed being homogeneous or inhomogeneous. Mathematical models describe the sound propagation within the narrow duct considering the visco-thermal effect at the filter pleats. For the validation, transmission loss (TL) is measured, and a change in TL spectrum is clearly observed by including the filter into the box. It is shown that the predicted TL counting the effect of visco-thermal loss agrees reasonably well with the experimental results. Noticeable effects of the filter on the TL are observed as highly smoothing effect at high frequencies and enhancing the TL magnitudes at troughs and lobes at low frequencies. Comparing homogeneous and inhomogeneous channel modelings, the latter is superior in precisely predicting the trough frequencies of TL curve, but the former is a bit better in predicting its magnitude. Parametric study on material and shape factors reveals that the number of pleats, length of the pleated filter, and distance between neighboring pleats are the key factors in determining the TL. It is concluded that an air filter element that has small number of long pleats with high flow resistance would bear the best acoustical performance among all designs.