© 2019 Optical Society of America We report the development of an improved spherical mirror multipass-cell-based interband cascade laser (ICL) spectrometer for ambient formaldehyde (HCHO) detection. The multipass cell consists of two easily manufactured spherical mirrors that are low cost, and have a simple structure, large mirror area utilization, and dense spot pattern. Optical interference caused by the multipath cell was largely reduced, resulting in good sensitivity. Using wavelength modulation spectroscopy (WMS), a detection precision (1s) of 51 pptv in 10 s was achieved with an absorption pathlength of 96 m, which compared favorably with the performance of other state-of-the-art instruments. The precision can be further improved by using a long absorption pathlength configuration and by removing fringe-like optical noise caused by the collimation lens. Ambient application of the developed spectrometer was demonstrated.